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While shared clinical decision-making (SDM) is the preferred approach to decision-making in mental health care, its implementation in everyday clinical practice is still insufficient. The European Psychiatric Association undertook a study aiming to gather data on the clinical decision-making style preferences of psychiatrists working in Europe.
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey involving a sample of 751 psychiatrists and psychiatry specialist trainees from 38 European countries in 2021, using the Clinical Decision-Making Style – Staff questionnaire and a set of questions regarding clinicians’ expertise, training, and practice.
SDM was the preferred decision-making style across all European regions ([central and eastern Europe, CEE], northern and western Europe [NWE], and southern Europe [SE]), with an average of 73% of clinical decisions being rated as SDM. However, we found significant differences in non-SDM decision-making styles: participants working in NWE countries more often prefer shared and active decision-making styles rather than passive styles when compared to other European regions, especially to the CEE. Additionally, psychiatry specialist trainees (compared to psychiatrists), those working mainly with outpatients (compared to those working mainly with inpatients) and those working in community mental health services/public services (compared to mixed and private settings) have a significantly lower preference for passive decision-making style.
The preferences for SDM styles among European psychiatrists are generally similar. However, the identified differences in the preferences for non-SDM styles across the regions call for more dialogue and educational efforts to harmonize practice across Europe.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented worldwide crisis affecting several sectors, including health, social care, economy and society at large. The World Health Organisation has emphasized that mental health care should be considered as one of the core sectors within the overall COVID-19 health response. By March 2020, recommendations for the organization of mental health services across Europe have been developed by several national and international mental health professional associations.
The European Psychiatric Association (EPA) surveyed a large European sample of psychiatrists, namely the “EPA Ambassadors”, on their clinical experience of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment of psychiatric patients during the month of April 2020 in order to: a) identify and report the views and experiences of European psychiatrists; and b) represent and share these results with mental health policy makers at European level. Based on the recommendations issued by national psychiatric associations and on the results of our survey, we identified important organisational aspects of mental health care during the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19.
While most of the recommendations followed the same principles, significant differences between countries emerged in service delivery, mainly relating to referrals to outpatients and for inpatient admission, assessments and treatment for people with mental disorders. Compared to previous months, the mean number of patients treated by psychiatrists in outpatient settings halved in April 2020. In the same period, the number of mentally ill patients tested for, or developing, COVID-19 was low. In most of countries, traditional face-to-face visits were replaced by online remote consultations.
Based on our findings we recommend: 1) to implement professional guidelines into practice and harmonize psychiatric clinical practice across Europe; 2) to monitor the treatment outcomes of patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing mental disorders; 3) to keep psychiatric services active by using all available options (for example telepsychiatry); 4) to increase communication and cooperation between different health care providers.
Mental healthcare in the countries of the former Soviet Union faces considerable challenges as result of the socio-economic transition. In this article we look at the changes in the Republic of Moldova. We identify weaknesses and strengths in the traditional hospital-based system and describe examples of the successful implementation of modern mental health services. We follow the reform process in mental health law and service provision in view of the recommendations from the Council of Europe (2004) for the protection of human rights of persons with mental disorder. Some of the information in this article was gathered during official visits to mental healthcare institutions in the Republic of Moldova in 2006.
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