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Medical News & Perspectives
June 23/30, 1999

Probing Informed Consent in Schizophrenia Research

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JAMA. 1999;281(24):2273-2274. doi:10.1001/jama.281.24.2273-JMN0623-2-1

Santa Fe, NM—Many people with schizophrenia are capable of giving informed consent to participate in research after an educational process to help them understand a study's potential risks and other key issues, according to new findings reported here at the Eighth International Congress on Schizophrenia Research.

The issue of informed consent in psychiatric research has become a contentious one in the past year or two, as mental health advocates have called for reform in guidelines for federally funded research involving patients with psychiatric illnesses. Last December, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission issued a report calling for a number of measures aimed at protecting patients with mental disorders that may impair their ability to make decisions about research protection (http://bioethics.gov/pubs.html). The report has drawn fire from many clinical investigators, who say that some of the commission's recommended measures would cripple important research, and from some mental health advocacy groups, who complain that the proposed rules are not tough enough.