OBJECTIVE: Shared decision-making during the course of treatment is important for people with severe mental illness. However, there is still insufficient knowledge about how people with mental illness view decisions, what kind of decisions are made and how patients experience and perceive the process of participation in routine care.
METHODS: A qualitative study with focus groups was conducted with patients with chronic mental illness currently receiving outpatient care (N=23). Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, coded and content analysed.
RESULTS: Three main themes were extracted from the data: 1. perception of the clinician and participation, 2. process of communication and flow of information, 3. decisions and transfer.
CONCLUSIONS: The perception of participation in the decision process depends on a good patient-doctor relationship. Decisions made in the course of an outpatient long-term treatment are complex and are often not made during one single appointment. Frequently, patients seek the advice of people from their social network and/or other health professionals.