Stakeholders’ Ethical Concerns Regarding Psychiatric Electroceutical Interventions: Results from a US Nationwide Survey

R. Bluhm, E. D. Sipahi, E. D. Achtyes, A. M. McCright, L. Y. Cabrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Psychiatric electroceutical interventions (PEIs) use electrical or magnetic stimulation to treat mental disorders and may raise different ethical concerns than other therapies such as medications or talk therapy. Yet little is known about stakeholders’ perceptions of, and ethical concerns related to, these interventions. We aimed to better understand the ethical concerns of a variety of stakeholder groups (patients with depression, caregivers of patients, members of the public, and psychiatrists) regarding four PEIs: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), and adaptive brain implants (ABI). Methods: We conducted a national survey of these four stakeholder groups, using an embedded video vignette experiment depicting a patient with treatment-resistant depression and her psychiatrist discussing the possibility of treatment with one of the four PEIs. Results: Participants’ ethical concerns varied by stakeholder group, by PEI, and by the interaction of the two. The three non-clinician groups tended to have similar ethical concerns, but to differ from psychiatrists. Similar concerns were raised with regard to the two implantable technologies, DBS and ABI. Overall, there was relatively little concern about the involuntary use of PEIs, though some expressed concern about the adequacy of information provided during the consent process. There was also significant concern that patients may not receive helpful therapies. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first national survey that includes multiple stakeholder groups and multiple PEI modalities. A better understanding of the ethical concerns of stakeholders can help to shape clinical practice and health care policy regarding PEIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalAJOB Empirical Bioethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy

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