What do newly appointed health staff know about the Mental Capacity Act (2005)?

Paul Willner*, Jennifer Bridle, Simon Dymond, Glenda Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The study aimed to assess the extent of knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) (2005) among new recruits to a National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Design: Respondents were assessed before and after a brief training experience. Setting: Data were collected while respondents attended their mandatory Trust induction training. Main outcome measure: Assessment was by means of a 16-item true-false questionnaire. Results: While respondents' knowledge appeared reasonably good for some important features of the MCA, these results may have been exaggerated by a strong tendency to respond 'true', which persisted despite instructions intended to counteract it. Some significant areas of ignorance were also identified. Scores showed a small but significant improvement when participants were reassessed following a 10-minute talk on the MCA; the improvements were specific to certain items that were included in the training presentation. There were no significant differences in performance between non-clinical staff, naive clinicians and clinicians who reported having previously received training on the MCA. Conclusions: Knowledge of the MCA among newly appointed NHS staff is patchy, with some strengths but also significant weaknesses. The results demonstrate a benefit of the brief training experience, but also question how much information is retained by participants in MCA training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-101
Number of pages5
JournalMedicine, Science and the Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
There are no conflicts of interest. The study was supported by a small grant from the Welsh Office for Research and Development in Health and Social Care (WORD). It was deemed by the Local Research Ethics Committee not to need ethical approval; the study is sponsored by ABMU Health Board and guaranteed by PW. The study was designed by PW and SD and implemented by JB and GL.


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