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Patients with Thought Disorder Can Play Active Role in Treatment

A new Australian study refutes the idea that severely mentally ill patients are incapable of effective communication with their psychiatrists and are unable to collaborate with them to achieve better outcomes.

“Interviews are a critical part of assessing people suffering from thought disorder (TD), and deciding what the best therapy is for them,” says Professor Cherrie Galletly from the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide. “Clinical interactions with people suffering with severe mental illness can be challenging, especially if the patient has disordered communication.”

The study, published in the journal Australian Psychiatry, analyzed 24 routine clinical interviews between psychiatrists and TD inpatients, with a mean age of just under 30 years.

“The study, the first of its kind, examined the expertise with which psychiatrists conducted clinical interviews of people suffering from TD, and the shared goals that were accomplished,” says Galletly.

“When interviewing people with TD psychiatrists need to adopt a mindset that the information the patient provides in that particular moment is, for them, meaningful, truthful, relevant and clear.”

“They have to piece together snippets of information in order to create and interpret meaning and build respectful relationships by inviting patients to share their perspectives no matter how disordered or delusional their responses appear.”

Thought disorder is common in psychotic disorders. The thoughts and conversation of patients with TD appear illogical and lacking in sequence and may be delusional or bizarre in content.

In 2010, 0.3% of Australians aged 18-64 years, had a psychotic illness with men aged 25-34 experiencing the highest rates (0.5%) of illness.

“Patients are positioned as active participants by psychiatrists who adopt a non-confrontational, non-judgemental approach, conveying support and safety, and ask open ended questions which allows the patient to engage, feel listened to, and work with the psychiatrist to achieve a shared understanding,” says Galletly.

“Findings from this study of sample interviews between psychiatrists and their patients highlight the need to rethink the notion that patients experiencing TD are incapable of communicating productively with the people trying to help them.”

“Psychiatrists use transactional, relational and interactional techniques when they are talking to patients with thought disorder, which go beyond techniques normally employed in clinical interviews.”

“Experienced psychiatrists undertake meaningful interviews with these patients, who in turn respond in ways that belie the notion that effective communication is not possible.”

“The findings from this research can be used to develop training resources for clinicians who work with people with psychotic disorders.”

Source: University of Adelaide

Patients with Thought Disorder Can Play Active Role in Treatment

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2020). Patients with Thought Disorder Can Play Active Role in Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/02/07/patients-with-thought-disorder-can-play-active-role-in-treatment/153499.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Feb 2020 (Originally: 7 Feb 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 7 Feb 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.