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Responsibility to carers — an ethical dilemma

  • Jacqueline M. Atkinson (a1) and Denise A. Coia (a2)
Extract

The responsibility the health service owes to relatives who care for mentally ill patients is gradually being acknowledged. The Griffiths Report (1988) makes explicit both that families should care for their ill members and that the health service has a duty to provide some support. The new support for the family is more to enable them to be ‘better carers’ and to cope with the burdens of caring. One area of psychiatry where this support is a growth area is for relatives of people with schizophrenia. Research points to both the impact of some families on the career of the patient, including relapse rates, and the ways in which such negative impact can be reduced (Leff et al, 1989). This paper is concerned with the ethical issues involved in offering a service to relatives. The ethical dilemma of access to relatives is intimately related to the person at whom outcome is aimed.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Atkinson, J. M. (1989) To tell or not to tell the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Journal of Medical Ethics, 15, 2124.
Bloch, S. & Chodoff, F. (1984) Psychiatric Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Carstairs, G. M., Early, D. F., Rollin, H. R. & Wing, J. K. (1985) Informing relatives about schizophrenia. Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 9, 5960.
Griffiths, Roy Sir (1988) Community Care – Agenda for Action. A Report to the Secretary of State for Social Services. London: HMSO.
Leff, J., Berkowitz, R., Shavit, N., Glass, I. & Vaughn, C. (1989) A trial of family therapy v a relatives group for schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 5658.
McDonald, F. (1980) The Tragedy of Schizophrenia – The Wife's Tale. Surbiton: NSF.
National Schizophrenia Fellowship (1974) Living with Schizophrenia – by the Relatives. Surbiton: NSF.
National Schizophrenia Fellowship (1983) Good Relations. A Code of Practice for Those Discharging Patients. Surbiton: NSF.
Roth, R. H., Applebaum, P. S., Sallee, R., Reynolds, C. F. III & Huber, G. (1982) The dilemma of denial in the assessment of competency to refuse treatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 139, 910913.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Responsibility to carers — an ethical dilemma

  • Jacqueline M. Atkinson (a1) and Denise A. Coia (a2)
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