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Ethics Behav. 1995;5(4):295-309.

Ethical practices and beliefs of psychopathology researchers.


Ethical guidelines are vague concerning how situations should be handled when researchers encounter participants in preexisting psychological distress. Ethical issues of beneficence, autonomy, and the nature of informed consent may arise in these situations. This study investigated the ethical practices and beliefs of 84 psychopathology researchers when confronting research participants in distress. Results indicated that psychopathology researchers in general engaged in diverse ethical practices in providing debriefing, treatment referrals, and providing for distressed participants. Characteristics of the designated studies and of the researchers accounted for significant differences in ethical practices. In addition, the type of psychopathology being assessed accounted for significant differences in ethical practices and beliefs. Guidelines are offered to aid researchers who encounter participants in preexisting distress.

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