Perspectives of Patients With Schizophrenia and Psychiatrists Regarding Ethically Important Aspects of Research Participation

Psychiatric Empirical Ethics Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 01/2000; 157(1):67-74. DOI: 10.1176/ajp.157.1.67
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Significant controversy surrounds the ethics of psychiatric research. Nevertheless, few data have been gathered to improve our understanding of how individuals with serious mental illness and psychiatrists view ethically important aspects of biomedical research participation.
The authors assessed views of clinically diagnosed patients with schizophrenia from three sites by means of structured interviews and views of psychiatrists at two sites with written surveys regarding attitudes affecting motivation to participate in biomedical research, attitudes related to autonomy and influences on participation decisions, and attitudes toward the inclusion of vulnerable populations in research. The schizophrenia patients were asked to indicate their personal views; the psychiatrists were asked to provide their personal views and to predict schizophrenia patients' views. Responses were compared by using repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance.
Sixty-three patients with schizophrenia and 73 psychiatry faculty and residents participated. Overall, responses to 23 rated attitudes revealed remarkably similar rank orders and several areas of agreement between patients and psychiatrists. Both groups strongly supported schizophrenia research and autonomous decision making by participants. They saw helping others and helping science as important reasons for protocol participation. Patients endorsed the feeling of hope associated with research involvement, a perspective underestimated by psychiatrists. Psychiatrists also underestimated the patients' acceptance of physician, investigator, and family influences on participation decisions. Psychiatrists agreed more strongly than patients that vulnerable populations should be included in research.
This study helps to characterize previously neglected attitudes of psychiatric patients and clinicians toward ethically important aspects of biomedical research participation. Schizophrenia patients offered highly discerning views, and interesting similarities and differences emerged in comparing responses of patients and psychiatrists.

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