Bioethics Blogs

Informed consent in the psychosis prodrome: ethical, procedural and cultural considerations

Research focused on the prodromal period prior to the onset of psychosis is essential for the further development of strategies for early detection, early intervention, and disease pre-emption. Such efforts necessarily require the enrollment of individuals who are at risk of psychosis but have not yet developed a psychotic illness into research and treatment protocols. This work is becoming increasingly internationalized, which warrants special consideration of cultural differences in conceptualization of mental illness and international differences in health care practices and rights regarding research participation. The process of identifying and requesting informed consent from individuals at elevated risk for psychosis requires thoughtful communication about illness risk and often involves the participation of family members. Empirical studies of risk reasoning and decisional capacity in young people and individuals with psychosis suggest that most individuals who are at-risk for psychosis can adequately provide informed consent; however ongoing improvements to tools and procedures are important to ensure that this work proceeds with maximal consideration of relevant ethical issues. This review provides a discussion of these issues in the context of international research efforts.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.