Assessing Patients Who Seek Help Ending Their Lives
capacity assessment; decision-making capacity; end of life decision-making; narrative; the psychiatric interview
As a result of end-of-life movements in a number of states, psychiatrists may be drawn into the capacity assessment of patients requesting assistance to end their lives. Such assessments cannot follow the mere technicalities of common clinical interviews, not simply because of the finality of the choice, but also because of the limitations of common cognitive assessments. The Committee on Professionalism and Ethics of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry consequently proposes an interview for such purposes that explores a patient's emotional capacity through a narrative inquiry about the patient's life, past coping, and reversible emotional states. It is a neutral approach that seeks to understand the patient rather than judge the appropriateness of an end-of-life request.
Gray, Sheila Hafter; Candilis, Philip J.; Howe, Edmund G.; Fallon, Theodore; Gennaro, Karen G.; Nesheim, Robert; and Van Loon, Jon A., "Assessing Patients Who Seek Help Ending Their Lives" (2022). GW Authored Works. Paper 1864.
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences