Psychiatric Advance Directives and the Right to Refuse Treatment in Canada
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OBJECTIVE: To provide a Canadian perspective on psychiatric advance directives (PADs) and assess whether these documents can be implemented as an adjunct to mental health services to empower people with mental illness. METHOD: We reviewed Canadian jurisprudence over the past 15 years related to people with mental illness and the right to refuse medical treatment. Provincial mental health legislation is explained to discern PADs' possible effect in Canada. RESULTS: Evidence is accumulating that legal and mental health professionals see PADs as useful documents to promote patient autonomy. Canadian jurisprudence, mental health legislation, and psychological research suggest that PADs could be implemented by legal and mental health professionals. Mental health legislation has the power to prohibit or facilitate choices regarding the right to refuse medical treatment. CONCLUSIONS: This review suggests the need for greater empirical research to be conducted in Canada to determine stakeholders' perceptions of whether PADs could successfully be implemented and their interaction with legislation.
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