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Rethinking the Conduct of Psychiatric Research

Paul S. Appelbaum, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(2):117-120. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830140025004.
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WHY reconsider how we conduct psychiatric research, as Bonnie1 and Elliott2 urge in this issue of the Archives? To be sure, several highly publicized cases have raised questions regarding the adequacy of current regulatory structures for the protection of subjects (New York Times. March 10, 1994:A-1 and March 4, 1995:21; Chronicle of Higher Education. March 31, 1995: A27). Adverse media coverage, however, even when it stimulates congressional hearings (New York Times. May 24, 1994:A-13), is not necessarily a sound basis on which to reopen complex issues of policy. In this case, though, there are at least 2 reasons to encourage further systematic attention to the conduct of psychiatric research.

First, doubts about whether protections are adequate to safeguard the interests of research subjects with mental illness threaten to split the alliance of family members and psychiatric researchers, a union that has become crucial for sustaining political support for


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