On legal guardianship: An exploratory assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of resident physicians
Clinicians encounter patients under legal guardianship. We aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) on legal guardianship in residents.
A KAP pilot survey about legal guardianship was developed by an interdisciplinary medicine-law-public health team and was distributed via institutional email to internal medicine, psychiatry, and neurology residents in a single academic institution.
Of the 172 invited residents, 105 (61%) responded and 102 surveys were included in the final analysis. Most respondents (58% women; internal medicine 73%, neurology 15%, psychiatry 12%) had attended 42 medical schools from 16 countries and had heard about guardianship (88%), but only 23% reported having received training on guardianship during medical school or residency. The vast majority (97%) understood the intended benefit of guardianship, but only 22.5% reported knowing that guardianship removed an individual’s decision-making rights. Nearly half (47%) of respondents reported never having asked for documentation to prove that an individual was a patient’s guardian, and only 15% expected to see a court order as proof of guardianship status.
Although most residents intuitively understood the intended benefit of guardianship, they did not understand its full implications for clinical practice. Training interventions are warranted.