In the past decade, health institutions in over ten countries—including Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the USA—have begun to provide patients with access to their clinical records via secure online portals. So far, however, few health organisations have chosen to share clinical notes written by mental health professionals. Clinicians, especially those working in psychiatric settings, remain concerned that patients could become anxious, confused, or offended by what they read, and that sharing notes will create an extra work burden for mental health professionals.
This is the first study to implement and assess the impact of patients’ access to psychiatric records in an outpatient setting. Although many questions remain to be studied and a more diverse sample is needed for future research, the potential impact to enhance mental health treatment and the patient-clinician relationship is suggested for selected psychiatric patients. Policy around providing psychiatry patients access to their notes can be informed by reactions of both clinicians and patients.