Pitfalls in assessment of decision-making capacity

Linda Ganzini, Ladislav Volicer, William Nelson, Arthur Derse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


A total of 395 consultation-liaison psychiatrists, geriatricians, and geriatric psychologists responded to a survey that asked them to rate the frequency and importance to clinical care of 23 potential pitfalls and misunderstandings by clinicians who refer patients for assessment of decision-making capacity. Respondents also indicated which pitfalls were the most important to address in educating health care professionals. Overall, 22 of 23 pitfalls were rated as common by more than half of the respondents. Thirty-six percent of the respondents indicated that the most important pitfall to address in educating health care professionals was the tendency for health care practitioners to assume that a patient who lacks capacity for one type of medical decision also lacks capacity for all medical decisions. The results suggest that additional education is needed to improve clinicians' ability to evaluate patients' decision-making capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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