Social workers’ knowledge of psychiatric advance directives: Implications for education, practice, and research

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Psychiatric advance directives (PAds) are legal documents that allow competent individuals to express wishes for psychiatric care during a future crisis when they may no longer be able to do so. PAds are intended to enhance client autonomy at a time when clients are most vulnerable— when in psychiatric crisis and thus in need of treatment, yet unable to voice their wishes because of illness. despite their potential utility, PAds are infrequently used. Using data from an exploratory survey (N = 193), we examined social workers’ familiarity and experience with PAds and found surprisingly low levels of PAd awareness and experience. We discuss the implications of these findings for social work research, practice, and education, and we offer recommendations for future study.