Competence, capacity and decision-making ability in mental disorder

By Dr Justine McCulloch and Dr Mark Taylor


Last updated: May 2021


Historically, individuals with mental disorder were often considered to suffer from a global inability to make decisions for themselves, and as such lost all right to self-determination. 


Recent decades have seen advances in bioethics as well as movement by the psychiatric profession from paternalism towards respect for patient autonomy. However, this can at times lead to philosophical, ethical and societal dilemmas.


This module offers guidance on:


  • the philosophical issues underlying competence, capacity and decision-making


  • consent   


  • the legal background


  • recent statutory developments


  • the assessment tools 


  • the evidence base.


Start the module 



If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Advance decisions in psychiatry: England and Wales by Dr Lisa Williams and Dr John Rigby


Ethical and legal challenges within children's mental healthcare: Part 1  duty of care and rights by Dr Moli Paul


Irish Mental Health Act 2001 by Dr Larkin Feeney and Dr Brendan Kelly


Dementia: capacity, empowerment and conflicts of interest by Prof Cornelius Katona and Dr Gill Livingston



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