Religious, spiritual, and traditional beliefs and practices and the ethics of mental health research in less wealthy countries.
This discussion article contributes to ethics reform by introducing the contribution of religious, spiritual, and traditional beliefs and practices to both subject vulnerability and patient improvement. A growing body of evidence suggests that religious, spiritual, and traditional beliefs and practices may provide positive benefits, although in some cases mixed or negative consequences to mental and physical health. These beliefs and practices add a new level of complexity to ethical deliberations, in terms of what ignoring them may mean for both distributive justice and respect for persons. International ethical guidelines need to be created that are expansive enough to cover an array of social groups and circumstances. It is proposed that these guidelines incorporate the religious, spiritual, and/or traditional principles that characterize a local population. Providing effective mental healthcare requires respecting and understanding how differences, including ones that express a population's religious, spiritual, or traditional belief systems, play into the complex deliberations and negotiations that must be undertaken if researchers are to adhere to ethical imperatives in research and treatment.
Nolan, JA; Whetten, K; Koenig, HG
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