Assessing the capacity of people with mental retardation to make informed treatment decisions

Christine D Cea, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined the consent capacity of adults with mild and moderate mental retardation to give informed consent for common health treatments by comparing their responses on the Assessment of Consent Capacity-I (ACC-I) with those of a sample of adults without mental retardation. The ACC-I used a structured single-unit disclosure format to present standardized hypothetical treatment vignettes and questions designed to test four increasingly demanding psycho-legal standards of ability to consent: (1) communicating a choice; (2) understanding relevant information; (3) appreciation of situation and consequences; and (4) rational manipulation of information. ^ Overall, the consent capacity of adults with mild and moderate mental retardation and that of adults without mental retardation differed with the levels of functioning of the individuals, the treatment context, previous experience with similar treatments, and the test of competency applied. Individuals with mild mental retardation were able to make choices about treatments presented to them and understood treatment information. Individuals with moderate mental retardation communicated a choice about treatments and understood the voluntary nature of treatment. The performance of both groups increased when the treatment context was familiar to them. ^ The present research has provided information about the parameters of capacity in people with mild and moderate mental retardation to give consent for treatment which has implications from both a public policy and applied health care setting perspectives. Results also suggest the importance of educating those working in health care settings regarding the level of capacity of individuals with mental retardation to give informed consent. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Christine D Cea, "Assessing the capacity of people with mental retardation to make informed treatment decisions" (January 1, 1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9926908.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9926908

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