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Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2008 Dec 8;2(1):39. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-2-39.

The ethics of psychopharmacological research in legal minors.

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The Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, Badenoch Building, Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychotherapy at the University Hospital Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
Contributed equally


Research in psychopharmacology for children and adolescents is fraught with ethical problems and tensions. This has practical consequences as it leads to a paucity of the research that is essential to support the treatment of this vulnerable group. In this article, we will discuss some of the ethical issues which are relevant to such research, and explore their implications for both research and standard care. We suggest that finding a way forward requires a willingness to acknowledge and discuss the inherent conflicts between the ethical principles involved. Furthermore, in order to facilitate more, ethically sound psychopharmacology research in children and adolescents, we suggest more ethical analysis, empirical ethics research and ethics input built into psychopharmacological research design.

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