Examining the relationship between choice, therapeutic alliance and outcomes in mental health services

Victoria Stanhope, Stacey L. Barrenger, Mark S. Salzer, Stephen C. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Self-determination within mental health services is increasingly recognized as an ethical imperative, but we still know little about the impact of choice on outcomes among people with severe mental illnesses. This study examines whether choice predicts outcomes and whether this relationship is mediated by therapeutic alliance. Method: The study sample of 396 participants completed a survey measuring choice, therapeutic alliance, recovery, quality of life and functioning. Multivariate analyses examined choice as a predictor of outcomes, and Sobel tests assessed alliance as a mediator. Results: Choice variables predicted recovery, quality of life and perceived outcomes. Sobel tests indicated that the relationship between choice and outcome variables was mediated by therapeutic alliance. Implications: The study demonstrates that providing more choice and opportunities for collaboration within services does improve consumer outcomes. The results also show that collaboration is dependent on the quality of the relationship between the provider and consumer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Choice
  • Mental health services
  • Self-determination
  • Therapeutic alliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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