A legislative amendment within Dutch mental healthcare increases the administrative burden: a follow-up study


  • Arjen Maris HU University of applied sciences




Dutch Mental Healthcare, Administrative burden, Legislative amendment, Public governance, Information Management


Background: To be accountable to laws and regulations, healthcare professionals spend more than 40% of their time on administrative tasks. The Compulsory Mental Healthcare Act (CMHA) was introduced in Dutch mental healthcare in 2020. It was hypothesized that this legislative amendment would raise the administrative burden for some care professionals. Pilot studies in 2020 and 2021 visualized the exponentially rise of the administrative burden for care professionals, especially psychiatrists due to the transition. However the total response was too small and not generalizable.

Aim: gain more nationwide insight in the hypothesized raise of administrative burden of psychiatrists due to the implementation of the CMHA.

Method: Under the leadership of an advisory board of three medical director psychiatrists, a Likert scale questionnaire was further developed to investigate the administrative burden of psychiatrists in the Netherlands before and after transition. Open-ended questions provided the opportunity for feedback from the psychiatrists. The study was supported by the Department of Medical Directors (DMD) of The Netherlands Psychiatric Association (NPA).

Results: all mental health institutions members of the DMD of the NPA received an invitation to participate. 14 institutions (total N=158) responded. The data show a significant change in the time spent on administrative tasks, the usefulness of the administrative actions, the fit for use and ease of use of supporting systems. The forementioned all decreased significantly after the implementation.

Conclusion and discussion: Psychiatrists spend more time on administration than before the legislative amendment instead of helping vulnerable patients. None of the institutions has been able to use the transition to its advantage given the time spent on administrative tasks and the usefulness of these tasks. This is an unacceptable development in the field of mental health in the Netherlands and should be addressed to those who are responsible for the decision making, especially policy makers. These results show that the introduction of the CMHA have made the field of Dutch mental health an impossible area to work for.