Courts have found psychiatric patients to have the qualified right to
refuse treatment. Particularly problematic is whether newly admitted
psychiatric patients can comprehend information and give informed consent.
The authors examined the ability of voluntary and involuntary psychotic
patients to understand information about antipsychotic medication, related
this assessment to psychopathology, and evaluated factors involved in
hypothetical acceptance or refusal of treatment. Although most patients
stated they had understood informed consent material, objective ratings did
not support this. Impaired understanding was significantly associated with
thought disturbance but did not affect hypothetical acceptance or refusal
of antipsychotics. Legal status was not a significant factor.