Rationale: American psychiatric residency training programs are now required to teach principles of research ethics. This task is especially pressing in light of evolving guidelines pertaining to human subjects, including psychiatric patients, especially when psychopharmacology is involved. Residents need to understand principles of research ethics and implications of roles of psychiatrists as investigators and clinicians. Objectives: We consider major contemporary ethical issues in clinical psychiatric research, with an emphasis on psychopharmacology, and implications of addressing them within residency training programs. Methods: We reviewed recent literature on ethical issues in clinical research and on medical education in bioethics. Results: This report considers: (1) an overview of current training; (2) perceived needs and rationales for training in research ethics, (3) recommended educational content and methods; (4) issues that require further study (including demonstration of acquired knowledge, practice issues, and the treatment versus-investigation misconception); and (5) conclusions. Recommended components of residency training programs include basic ethical principles; scientific merit and research design; assessment of risks and benefits; selection and informed consent of patient-subjects; and integrity of the clinical investigator, including definition of roles, conflicts-of-interest, and accountability. Evaluation of educational effectiveness for both trainees and faculty is a recommended component of such programs. Conclusions: We recommend that psychiatric training include education about ethical aspects of clinical research, with a particular emphasis on psychopharmacology. These activities can efficiently be incorporated into teaching of other aspects of bioethics, research methods, and psychopharmacology. Such education early in professional development should help to clarify roles of clinicians and investigators, improve the planning, conduct and reporting of research, and facilitate career development of much-needed clinical investigators in psychiatry.
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