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Spot the difference: shared decision-making and supported decision-making in mental health

  • M. B. Simmons (a1) (a2) and P. M. Gooding (a3)


Respecting a person’s choices about the mental health services they do or do not use is a mark of quality support, and is often pursued for moral reasons, as a rights imperative and to improve outcomes. Yet, providing information and assistance for people making decisions about the mental health services can be a complex process, and has been approached in various ways. Two prominent approaches to this end are ‘shared decision-making’ and ‘supported decision-making’. This article considers each of these approaches, discussing points of similarity and difference and considering how the two might complement one another. By exploring the contribution that each approach can make, we conclude by proposing how future application of these approaches can account for the broader context of decisions, including support for ongoing decision-making; the multitude of service settings where decision-making occurs; and the diversity in supportive practices required to promote active involvement.

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Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Dr M. B. Simmons, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, 3052, Australia. (Email:


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These authors contributed equally to this work.



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