Emerging empirical evidence on the ethics of schizophrenia research

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Biomedical Research; Decision Making; *Empiricism; Humans; Informed Consent; Mental Health Services; Schizophrenia; United States


Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Health Services Research | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Many challenging ethical questions come with the scientific efforts to understand the nature and treatment of schizophrenia. The empirical study of ethical aspects of schizophrenia research has sought to clarify and resolve many of these questions. In this article we provide an overview of the existing data-based literature on schizophrenia research ethics and outline directions for future inquiry. We examine 5 broad categories of inquiry into the ethics of schizophrenia research: (1) Scientific designs (eg, placebo-controlled studies and medication-free intervals, prodromal and high-risk research, and genetics research); (2) informed consent and decision-making capacity, including assessment of decisional abilities, as well as intervention studies; (3) understanding and perceptions of risk and benefit (including the therapeutic misconception); (4) influences on research participation (including voluntarism, altruism, and other motivations); and (5) key participant safeguards, such as protocol review and participant advocates. We discuss how empirical work in each of these areas answers certain questions and raises new ones. Finally, we highlight important gaps in our understanding of ethically relevant aspects of schizophrenia research and offer a specific research agenda for empirical ethics.

DOI of Published Version



Schizophr Bull. 2006 Jan;32(1):47-68. Epub 2005 Oct 19. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Schizophrenia bulletin

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID