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Open Access Research article

Experiences of treatment decision making for young people diagnosed with depressive disorders: a qualitative study in primary care and specialist mental health settings

Magenta B Simmons1*, Sarah E Hetrick2 and Anthony F Jorm1

Author Affiliations

1 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia

2 headspace Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2011, 11:194  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-194

Published: 12 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Clinical guidelines advocate for the inclusion of young people experiencing depression as well as their caregivers in making decisions about their treatment. Little is known, however, about the degree to which these groups are involved, and whether they want to be. This study sought to explore the experiences and desires of young people and their caregivers in relation to being involved in treatment decision making for depressive disorders.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were carried out with ten young people and five caregivers from one primary care and one specialist mental health service about their experiences and beliefs about treatment decision making. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Experiences of involvement for clients varied and were influenced by clients themselves, clinicians and service settings. For caregivers, experiences of involvement were more homogenous. Desire for involvement varied across clients, and within clients over time; however, most clients wanted to be involved at least some of the time. Both clients and caregivers identified barriers to involvement.

Conclusions

This study supports clinical guidelines that advocate for young people diagnosed with depressive disorders to be involved in treatment decision making. In order to maximise engagement, involvement in treatment decision making should be offered to all clients. Involvement should be negotiated explicitly and repeatedly, as desire for involvement may change over time. Caregiver involvement should be negotiated on an individual basis; however, all caregivers should be supported with information about mental disorders and treatment options.