Perceptions of ethical problems by forensic psychiatrists

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1989;17(2):189-202.


A survey was undertaken of the opinions of two groups of forensic psychiatrists to determine their views regarding forensic ethical issues. Although AAPL has made significant strides for our profession by adopting ethical guidelines, some important issues have not yet been addressed, as revealed by our survey. Included were items heretofore considered too "controversial" for incorporation into guidelines, as well as items from the APA ethical framework. All APA items were evaluated as addressing ethical problems. The majority of respondents also viewed most of the "controversial" items as confronting relevant ethical problems, thereby suggesting their inclusion, in some form, in the profession's guidelines. They also appeared to favor retention of many traditional medical ethical values when functioning as a forensic psychiatrist. Clear selective discrimination existed among differing death penalty facets. Since AAPL at present does not wish to conduct its own ethics hearings, the AAPL guidelines as well as the items supported in this paper's survey would best be translated into a form consistent with the APA framework. In this way, AAPL's guidelines and also the new suggested items could readily be coordinated within the APA framework and could play a role in the APA local district branch enforcement process.

MeSH terms

  • Capital Punishment
  • Codes of Ethics*
  • Confidentiality
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Expert Testimony
  • Forensic Psychiatry*
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement*
  • Mentally Ill Persons*
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Societies, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires