Experiences of the ‘Nearest Relative’ provisions in the compulsory detention of people under the Mental Health Act: rapid systematic review
Shaw, EH; Nunns, MP; Briscoe, S; et al.Anderson, R; Thompson Coon, J
Date: 13 December 2018
Health Services and Delivery Research
NIHR Journals Library
Background Service users detained for assessment and/or treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983 are allocated a ‘Nearest Relative’. The Nearest Relative has access to confidential information about the service user, and can make decisions about their care and treatment. Tensions exist regarding the identification, displacement and ...
Background Service users detained for assessment and/or treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983 are allocated a ‘Nearest Relative’. The Nearest Relative has access to confidential information about the service user, and can make decisions about their care and treatment. Tensions exist regarding the identification, displacement and powers of the Nearest Relative. Objectives To examine the experiences of service users, carers and relevant professionals of the Nearest Relative provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983, and the equivalent Named Person provisions in Scotland. Five research objectives were defined, understanding the experiences of and issues associated with i) identification of the Nearest Relative, ii) displacement of the Nearest Relative, iii) confidentiality and information sharing iv) access to support from carers and v) making decisions about treatment or care. Data sources Seven bibliographic databases: MEDLINE (via Ovid), MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations (via Ovid), PsycINFO (via Ovid), Social Policy and Practice (via Ovid), HMIC (via Ovid), CINAHL (via EBSCO) and ASSIA (via ProQuest). Citation searching, author contact and grey literature searches were conducted. Review methods A rapid systematic review was conducted in six weeks. Evidence published after 1998 was sought from the UK, pertaining to the experiences of those involved in compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 (or UK variants), including service users, carers, family members, Nearest Relatives, Named Persons, mental health professionals, policy makers and lawyers. Study selection, data extraction and critical appraisal were completed independently by two reviewers. We sought data about experiences obtained through qualitative means or surveys. Included studies containing several paragraphs of participant quotes and/or author interpretations were entered into a framework synthesis; the rest were summarised descriptively. The framework synthesis was based upon the five research objectives and refined using the findings of key studies from England and Scotland and inductive thematic analysis. Findings Twenty studies were included with 12 prioritised for framework synthesis. Four themes emerged i) issues regarding the identification of the Nearest Relative/Named Person, ii) confidentiality and information sharing, iii) enabling use of the Nearest Relative/Named Person role and iv) importance of maintaining relationships. The involvement of service users in choosing their representative and the role of services in supporting the Nearest Relative/Named Person was identified as important. Limitations There is little recent evidence to inform this important and complex discussion. The review was rigorously conducted despite the short timescale; however a more in-depth, iterative thematic analysis of all the included studies may have provided additional insights into the mechanisms underpinning the issues. Conclusions The Nearest Relative provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983 are complex and of significant importance to individuals detained under the Act and their carers. This rapid review provides specific examples of issues that individuals may experience. More research is needed to aid understanding of this complex topic. Future work Primary research specifically focussed on the perceived and actual use and impact of the Nearest Relative provisions in England and Scotland.
Institute of Health Research
College of Medicine and Health
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