Psychiatrists Put Patient Rights First

June 11, 1998

Washington, DC -- The rights of persons with mental disorders come first in psychiatric research, according to American Psychiatric Association (APA) testimony today before the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The hearing examined "Institutional Review Boards: a System in Jeopardy," a report prepared by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"If research cannot be performed without violating the rights of participants, it should not take place," said Paul Appelbaum, M.D*., APA Secretary and Chair of the Association's Ethics Appeals Board. "Coercive techniques to obtain consent are unacceptable, as are inadequate or deceptive disclosures of information to potential subjects. We reject the claim that knowledge must be advanced at any price."

In his testimony, Dr. Appelbaum commended the subcommittee for focusing public attention on the issues involving human participation in medical research raised by the Inspector General's report. He added that the APA--in addressing the complexities of psychiatric research needs and patient protection--endorses two key principles:

Minimizing risk to those persons who volunteer to participate in research studies; and Maximizing participants' knowledge of what their involvement will entail.

These principles will be implemented with the recognition that some populations evoke greater concern and may require greater protection than others; that additional safeguards should be tailored to the needs of particular populations, rather than being applied on a blanket basis; and that appropriate safeguards are required for permitting persons who lack decision making capacities -- either because of age or illness -- to be entered into research projects.

Noting that many medical conditions such as infection, heart attack, stroke, and metabolic imbalances can impair decision-making, Dr. Appelbaum cautioned against focusing only on the decision-making ability of persons with psychiatric or neurological disorders. He said research shows that many persons with mental disorders have no decision-making impairment. "To classify all person with mental disorders as cognitively impaired would revive the stereotypes against which we have been struggling for so long," he said.

Dr. Appelbaum said the APA is commited to bringing the highest standard to research practices. "Effective research is the key to treating these disorders and to the reduction of the suffering they cause," said Dr. Appelbaum. "The development of a newer generation of antipsychotic medications, with greater efficacy and fewer side effects, has not only yielded significant economic savings, but has more importantly restored hundreds of thousands of patients to functional membership in society. None of these advances would have been possible without the assistance of persons suffering from these disorders, who volunteered to participate in trials of the effectiveness of these new medications."

* In addition to his posts in the APA, Dr. Appelbaum is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His research over the last 20 years has focused on legal and ethical aspects of medical practice, including informed consent to medical research.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society, founded in 1844, whose 42,000 physician members specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses and substance use disorders.

American Psychiatric Association

Related Mental Disorders Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health disorders among university students confined during COVID-19
University students in France who experienced quarantine during COVID-19 were surveyed to assess how common were mental health issues and to identify factors associated with these disorders.

Care for veterans with substance use and mental health disorders needs improvement
While the availability of services for veterans has expanded in recent years, many post-9/11 veterans do not receive appropriate care for their co-occurring substance use and mental health problems, according to a new study.

Infant sleep problems can signal mental disorders in adolescents -- Study
Specific sleep problems among babies and very young children can be linked to mental disorders in adolescents, a new study has found.

Mental disorders in the family affects the treatment of people with bipolar disorder
Patients with bipolar disorder who have multiple family members with severe mental disorders, are more difficult to treat and require more medicine.

Researchers call for new approach to some mental disorders
Depression, anxiety and PTSD might not be disorders at all, according to a recent paper by Washington State University biological anthropologists.

Mapping health risks for people with mental disorders
Researchers now have the ability to map the risks of general medical conditions such as heart and lung diseases, diabetes and cancer for people with mental disorders.

Spinal cord injury increases risk for mental health disorders
A new study finds adults with traumatic spinal cord injury are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders and secondary chronic diseases compared to adults without the condition.

Maternal hypertensive disorders may lead to mental health disorders in children
Hypertensive pregnancy disorders, especially preeclampsia -- may increase the risk of psychological development disorders and behavioral and emotional disorders in children.

Critically injured soldiers have high rates of mental health disorders
U.S. combat soldiers who suffered a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely than soldiers with other serious injuries to experience a range of mental health disorders, according to a new retrospective study by University of Massachusetts Amherst health services researchers.

Brain imaging may improve diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders
Brain imaging may one day be used to help diagnose mental health disorders--including depression and anxiety--with greater accuracy, according to a new study conducted in a large sample of youth at the University of Pennsylvania and led by Antonia Kaczkurkin, PhD and Theodore Satterthwaite, MD.

Read More: Mental Disorders News and Mental Disorders Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to