A recent study of Alzheimer patient’s participation in decisions about health and social issues raised some interesting results.
The study found that patients had a preference for participation in healthcare-related decisions, especially in social ones. The individuals suffering from a cognitive impairment wanted their relatives to play a secondary role in decision-making. In fact they wanted to maintain primary decision-making responsibility.
Relatives and referring physicians, however performed poorly in predicting the individuals’ participation preferences. Most interestingly relatives wanted to attribute less decision-making power to patients than the patients did themselves. While the study did find there were deficits in decision-making capacity, those deficits were mostly related to understanding of the information presented.
The take away: if information is presented clearly and in a way that can be understood by the individual their decision-making capacity should be respected.