Communication, confidentiality and consent in mental health care

Christopher J Ryan, Sascha Callaghan and Matthew M Large
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.11313
Published online: 20 January 2014

Balancing a patient’s right to privacy with the information needs of family and others

Families and friends play a vital role in the care and support of people with serious mental illness. However, caregivers often complain that treating teams do not adequately inform them of their loved one’s condition and management plan. Failure or refusal to disclose such information can be very distressing for those offering support and, in circumstances where people with mental illness behave in threatening, violent or self-destructive ways, it can have serious repercussions.1

  • Christopher J Ryan1,2
  • Sascha Callaghan2
  • Matthew M Large3

  • 1 Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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