Informed Consent for Suicide Prevention Trials

On November 19th, 2019, Fordham University’s Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. presented at the 2019 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference hosted by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). The presentation was entitled, “Informed Consent for Suicide Prevention Trials.”

During her talk, Dr. Fisher, Professor of Psychology, Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics, and Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education, discussed how the nature of suicidality uniquely influences research design and informed consent for suicide prevention randomized control trials (RCTs), how the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) guidelines for informed consent for suicide RCTs address those unique aspects, and how clinical care practices can inform consent procedures in ways that protect both participant autonomy and welfare.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death for adolescents. In order for researchers to protect the autonomy and welfare of study participants through informed consent in suicide prevention RCTs, Dr. Fisher made the following recommendations:

  • honest discussion of suicide risk and the limitations of treatment to reduce such risks;
  • attention to psychological factors that may influence consent-decision making;
  • consideration of ways in which consent can influence participant responses to treatment; and
  • development of consent procedures that promote both autonomous decision-making and treatment adherence and efficacy

The presentation, “Informed Consent for Suicide Prevention Trials,” can be downloaded here.

Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Fordham University Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education and the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute. Fisher’s Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologist, is now in its fourth edition from Sage Publications.

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