Episode 5: Public Perception of Psychiatric Interventions

No Easy Answers in Bioethics logoEpisode 5 of No Easy Answers in Bioethics is now available! This episode features guests Dr. Laura Cabrera, Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine, Dr. Robyn Bluhm, Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department and Lyman Briggs College, and undergraduate research assistant Rachel McKenzie. Together at Michigan State University they have collaborated on research regarding psychiatric interventions, including pharmacological interventions as well as neurosurgery, like deep brain stimulation. In this episode they share some highlights from their internally-funded Science and Society at State project, which focused on the public perceptions of such psychiatric interventions.

Ways to Listen

This episode was produced and edited by Liz McDaniel in the Center for Ethics. Music: “While We Walk (2004)” by Antony Raijekov via Free Music Archive, licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Full transcript available.

About: No Easy Answers in Bioethics is a podcast series from the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Each month Center for Ethics faculty and their collaborators discuss their ongoing work and research across many areas of bioethics—clinical ethics, evidence-based medicine, health policy, medical education, neuroethics, shared decision-making, and more. Episodes are hosted by H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.

Pharmacological and Neurosurgical Psychiatric Interventions: Through the Looking Glass

Laura Cabrera photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Laura Cabrera is the Team Leader on the project “Psychiatric Interventions: Values and Public Attitudes,” funded by the Michigan State University group Science and Society at State (S3). Dr. Cabrera’s team members are Dr. Robyn Bluhm of the Philosophy Department and Lyman Briggs College, and Dr. Mark Reimers of the Neuroscience Program and the College of Human Medicine.

home_1On October 28, 2016, Dr. Cabrera and team held the workshop “Pharmacological and Neurosurgical Psychiatric Interventions: Through the Looking Glass” as part of their S3 project. Participants included faculty, health professionals, researchers, and students from multiple institutions across the state.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together an interdisciplinary group of individuals with common interests, specifically in social and ethical issues within psychiatry. The workshop was useful as a way to obtain feedback regarding the pilot data that the team has been gathering and analyzing. Moreover, the workshop served as an opportunity to foster further collaborations and explore other grant proposal venues, as well as explore issues that need to be addressed regarding somatic psychiatric interventions.

The first session in the morning opened with two keynote presentations. First, Dr. Jed Magen, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, presented a talk entitled “Why We Don’t Know Much.” Dr. Magen addressed key issues related to pharmacological interventions in psychiatry, such as what the limits are of disease entities, the role of the pharmaceutical industry, and the importance of not only considering somatic psychiatric interventions, but also considering psychosocial approaches. The second presentation was by neurosurgeon Hayden M.K. Boyce of Spectrum Health, who spoke on “Ethical Considerations for DBS in Psychiatric Disorders.” Dr. Boyce’s presentation touched on five main issues: the complexity in deciding which areas to target, ethical treatment in trial, clinical trial design, issues connected to personality changes as well as issues around agency, and resource allocation.

During the question and answer session the discussion revolved around topics such as whether deep brain stimulation was particularly problematic in ways that pharmacological interventions where not, changes to self, and issues of uncertainty.

The second session presented the first part of the results of the project “Psychiatric Interventions: Values and Public Attitudes.” Dr. Bluhm talked about the aims, methods and results of the academic literature analysis. Session three covered the second part of the project results, in which Dr. Cabrera presented the aims, methods and results of the online public comment analysis. The final session transitioned to a large group discussion, in which the participants debated various relevant issues connected to somatic psychiatric interventions, such as the role of values and risk, the meaning of treatment refractory, and validation of the disorder. This last session also served as a space to discuss conceptual and practical issues related to how to move forward with the project.

To learn more about Science and Society at State and their funded projects, visit s3.msu.edu.