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AMA J Ethics. 2016 Jun 1;18(6):624-32. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2016.18.6.msoc1-1606.

Psychosis Risk: What Is It and How Should We Talk About It?

Author information

1
Director of the Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care and an assistant professor of medical ethics and psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
2
Associate professor of psychology and the director of clinical research assessment in the Department of Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry Section, at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Abstract

Schizophrenia and other psychosis spectrum disorders do not develop de novo but emerge from prodromal stages that are named and operationalized differently depending on the research group or consortium and its theoretical orientation. As a result, a complex lexicon now exists for characterizing individuals' risk of subclinical symptoms converting to psychosis. Researchers aim to develop instruments and methods to identify people at risk of psychosis, better understand their risks, and offer preventative treatments to arrest conversion to psychosis; ethical and policy questions loom large with each of these projects. In this paper, we canvass the lexical complexities of the at-risk status for psychosis and then consider ethical and policy challenges that researchers and clinicians face in disclosing, preventing, and treating psychosis risk.

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