Perspectives of self-direction: a systematic review of key areas contributing to service users’ engagement and choice-making in self-directed disability services and supports Academic Article uri icon


  • Self-directed disability support policies aim to encourage greater choice and control for service users in terms of the health and social care they receive. The proliferation of self-directed disability support policies throughout the developed world has resulted in a growing amount of research exploring the outcomes for service users, and their families and carers. Our understanding of the issues faced by people with disabilities, particularly how they make health and social care decisions and the key areas that determine their engagement with service providers within a self-directed environment is limited. A synthesis of research is timely and can provide knowledge for service users and health and social care support providers to ensure their successful participation. A systematic review guided by the PRISMA approach explored (i) the key areas determining service users' engagement with self-directed disability services and supports, and (ii) how service users make informed decisions about providers. In October 2014 and April 2016, three databases - MEDLINE, CINAHL and Web of Science - were searched for research and review articles. Eighteen sources met the search criteria. Findings were mapped into either: key areas determining service user engagement, or service users' informed decision-making. Findings concerning key areas determining engagement fell into three themes - personal responsibility for budgeting, personalised approaches, and a cultural shift in practice and delivery among service providers. Findings about decision-making yielded two themes - supporting informed decision-making and inhibiting informed decision-making. Literature suggests that self-directed models of care may provide service users with increased control over the services that they receive. Increased control for some service users and their families requires independent external decision-making support, particularly around the domains of budgeting, planning and hiring. Future research must continue to investigate the perspectives of service users pertaining to their engagement, as their participation is central to the effectiveness of the approach.

publication date

  • 2018