Advocates for people with mental illnesses fear certain people may be taken advantage of for the purpose of research. A University of Iowa study tried to determine if people with schizophrenia were competent to give their consent for an in-depth study. Dr. David Moser, a U-of-I psychiatry professor, is the study’s lead author.He says there’s a great deal of concern about the degree to which people with conditions that effect cognitive functioning are able to provide consent to be in research, basically, whether they understand what they’re getting into. Dr. Moser says 50 test subjects were used, 25 with schizophrenia and 25 with H-I-V. He says a vast majority of the people with schizophrenia had sufficient decision-making abilities.They demonstrated adequate ability to provide informed consent to a complicated medication trial, which was actually a hypothetical study in which we asked them to pretend they were being asked to take part. Moser says it was clear that many more people who would normally be ruled out -can- take part in various types of research projects.Those who are so-called incompetent can benefit significantly if given consent materials in other ways, maybe with a video or by just taking time to go through the materials and discuss them at greater length. H-I-V patients were used as a “control” group for this study. While H-I-V is not a psychotic illness, afflicted people share many similarities with people who have schizophrenia — anxiety, depression, often similar ages and education levels, and both illnesses carry a societal stigma.The study is being published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
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