RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Prevalence and correlates of adequate performance on a measure of abilities related to decisional capacity: differences among three standards for the MacCAT-CR in patients with schizophrenia.

Despite the availability of structured decision-making capacity assessment tools, insufficient guidance exists for applying their results. Investigators often use cutpoints on these instruments to identify potential subjects in need of further assessment or education. Yet, information is lacking regarding the effects of different cutpoints on the proportion and characteristics of individuals categorized as possessing adequate or impaired decisional abilities for consent to research. To demonstrate the potential impact of different standards, we informed 91 individuals, aged 50 or older with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, about a hypothetical clinical trial, and assessed their decisional abilities with the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR). Three published MacCAT-CR-based standards were applied to participants' scores to examine the rates and correlates of categorical determinations of adequate performance. The three standards ranged in stringency: the most stringent incorporated cutpoints on all three of the major MacCAT-CR subscales (Understanding, Appreciation, and Reasoning); the other two standards required threshold performance only on the Understanding subscale. The most stringent standard resulted in a 57% rate of impaired performance; the intermediate standard, 19%; and the least stringent standard, 8%. Nearly half of the participants (n=45) were classified as having performed adequately by the least stringent standard yet inadequately by the most stringent. The majority of these 45 were impaired on the Appreciation subscale (n=9), Reasoning (n=15), or both (n=18). Cognitive functioning was correlated with performance status for the more stringent standards. These findings underscore the need for refinement of capacity assessment procedures and for improvements in the use of capacity assessment tools for screening purposes and to assist in categorical capacity determinations.

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