Questions Of Ethics: Mental Disorders

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Research: Questions of ethics One of the most serious ethical grey areas arises when conducting research upon individuals with serious mental disorders. First and foremost, their ability to give consent may be in doubt. Coupled with the fact that the subjects in question are underage and may be in physically unstable conditions, the questions of ethical consent grow even dicier. This is the challenge faced by researchers conducting scientific studies of treatments that could be useful for patients with eating disorders. "Large patient samples are a fundamental requirement of studies that set out to test important and clinically-driven hypotheses. Hence, the ability of researchers to attract, recruit and retain patients into studies that require sufficient statistical power to confirm or negate a hypothesis is crucial...Patients often express fear at the thought of partaking in research trials, and the clinician-patient relationship can experience significant strain as youth may struggle with thoughts of whether researchers will be working in their best interests, or the best interests of the study" (Norris et al 2007). Research studies often do not enhance the individual quality of life of the subjects, even though they may be illuminating for persons with that disorder later on. However, the treatment team of the adolescent has a particularly strong obligation to act in the best interests of the patient, given that the adolescent may not be able to fully understand the
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