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J Clin Nurs. 1999 Jul;8(4):467-75.

Ethical issues and their practical application in a psychological autopsy study of suicide.

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University of Manchester, School of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Withington Hospital.


The psychological autopsy research method provides detailed information about a suicide using various sources including, coroners' reports, medical records and information gathered from interviews with key informants. The purpose of this article is to discuss the ethical issues that arose when undertaking a psychological autopsy study in Manchester, UK. The sensitive nature of the research is discussed, in particular in relation to the participation of the close relatives and friends of the deceased. These issues, identified from the experiences of other researchers in this field and by conducting a study in Manchester, had implications for the research design and its application. The reactions of the informants who took part in the Manchester study are reported, and their comments should be used to refine future studies on sensitive topics. Their suggestions on their needs and the needs of the suicidal have implications for future health service provision.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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