Does involving patients in treatment decisions affect perceptions of treatments and therapists?


Psychotherapists may offer patients more or less involvement when deciding on a treatment. The aim of the present research was to examine whether perceptions of the treatment and therapist differ when a therapist uses a paternalistic style in making treatment decisions or a more collaborative approach, in which the patient helps in selecting treatment. In the study, 172 participants, recruited from a university setting and a national sample, listened to a simulated conversation representing either a paternalism or informed-choice model of a therapist-patient interaction. The participants then rated their expectation the treatment would help the patient, their perception of the therapist’s trustworthiness, and their own preference for relying on clinicians for knowledge and decisions. Analysis indicated that among participants preferring to rely on clinicians, perceptions did not differ reliably based on the type of interaction they heard. However, participants wanting more involvement in treatment choices perceived greater treatment effectiveness and clinician trustworthiness for the interaction in which the patient was offered treatment choices. These results suggest that if therapists adopt a collaborative approach, it has the potential to enhance perceptions of individuals preferring the collaborative style without negatively affecting those who prefer less involvement in treatment decisions.

Publication Title

Psychotherapy Research