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Isr Med Assoc J. 2016 Aug;18(8):454-460.

Specific Ethical Codes for Mental Health Care Professionals: Do We Need to Annotate?

Author information

Mental Health Services, Ministry of Health, Jerusalem, Israel.
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Department of Nursing, School of Health Professions, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center, Tzur Moshe, Israel.
Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center, Beer Yaakov, Israel.



In Israel a general code of ethics exists for physicians, drafted by the Israel Medical Association. The question arises whether psychiatrists require a separate set of ethical guidelines.


To examine the positions of Israeli psychiatrists with regard to ethics in general and professional ethics in particular, and to explore opinions regarding a code of ethics or ethical guidelines for psychiatry.  Methods: A specially designed questionnaire was compiled and completed by psychiatrists recruited for the study.


A specially designed questionnaire was compiled and completed by psychiatrists recruited for the study.


Most participants reported low levels of perceived knowledge regarding ethics, professional ethics, and the general code of ethics. Older and more experienced professionals reported a higher level of knowledge. Most psychiatrists agreed or strongly agreed with the need for a distinct code of ethics/ethical guidelines for psychiatrists. This support was significantly higher among both psychiatrists under 50 years and residents.


Our findings suggest that the existing code of ethics and position papers may not be sufficient, indicating a potential need to develop and implement a process to create the ethical code itself. In addition, the findings highlight the importance of ethics education, suggesting that the need for a code of ethics is more urgent in the early stages of professional training, as younger professionals may be more exposed to advanced media technology. While some may fear that a distinct code of ethics will distance psychiatry from modern medicine, others assert that the profession combines aspects from the humanities and social sciences that require a unique sort of management and thus this profession requires a distinct code of ethics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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