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April 2016

Restrict the Recruitment of Involuntarily Committed Patients for Psychiatric Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 2University of Tulsa College of Law, John Rogers Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(4):317-318. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3117

Can an involuntarily committed psychiatric patient give truly voluntary consent for medical research? This question has been fiercely debated in Minnesota since 2008, when the St Paul Pioneer Press reported the death of Dan Markingson, a mentally ill young man who had been recruited into an antipsychotic study at the University of Minnesota while under a civil commitment order. Along with many others, we have argued that the circumstances of Markingson’s commitment order compromised the voluntariness of his consent to the study. Although federal guidelines are silent on the issue, we believe the Markingson case serves as a powerful argument for serious restrictions on the recruitment of involuntarily committed patients into psychiatric research studies.

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