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Decision-Making Competence, Aging and Mental Status

The term competence in decision making is often linked to the phrase legal competence. Here, for example, a judge may go by a patient's bedside to determine if the patient is legally competent to make a medical decision on his or her own behalf. The term decisional capacity and notions related to the assessment of decisional capacity belong to the realm of physicians in two areas: (1) assessing the capabilities of patients to make medical decisions in medical care and (2) assessing the capabilities of individuals to make decisions on whether to participate in human research studies as study volunteers. This entry provides an overview of decisional capacity; addresses the role of physicians in assessing decisional capacity of patients; discusses various assessment procedures for ...

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