Studying the implementation of Virginia's 2009 Health Care Decision Act and its potential impact on persons with severe mental illness

The Foundation's program, Public Health Law Research: Making the Case for Laws That Improve Health, was designed to build the evidence for public health law and policy, translate research findings into practical tools to increase the support for and use of law by policy-makers and public health practitioners, and to translate findings to other fields and venues to improve and protect health.This project will study the implementation of Virginia's newly enacted Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA) to identify the key barriers and enabling factors that will determine the law's ultimate impact on health outcomes, safety, and quality of life for persons with severe mental illness. The study's findings will be used to develop specific recommendations to improve implementation and positive impact of the HCDA in Virginia and will also be disseminated nationally to inform policymaking elsewhere. The study will survey key stakeholders and health care providers on the implementation of Virginia's HCDA from 2009 and work with one Community Service Board to model the implementation of the HCDA in its service population. Deliverables include a set of recommendations for implementation to the Virginia Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, and will be disseminated through the National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives. Evidence produced by the study will be used directly in Virginia to inform and thus optimize the implementation of policy and practice surrounding the HCDA. Findings will also be useful to policymakers and mental health advocates in other states who are contemplating the use of similar advance directive laws to help meet the public health challenge of severe mental illness in their communities.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $100,000.00

Awarded on: 11/30/2009

Time frame: 12/15/2009 - 12/14/2010

Grant Number: 67241


University of Virginia

P.O. Box 400224
Charlottesville, 22904-4224


Richard J. Bonnie
Project Director


Jeanita W. Richardson
Project Director