Ethics Resources and Standards

All members of the Association shall be bound by the ethical code of the medical profession, specifically defined in the Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association and in the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry.

The APA’s Ethics Committee is responsible for drafting (for Board of Trustee and Assembly approval) annotations to update the current Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry, responding to members’ inquiries about ethical issues, and providing educational activities for the membership and the chairpersons of district branch ethics committees. The Ethics Committee also ensures complaints are handled in accordance with the APA’s Procedures for Handling Complaints of Unethical Conduct.


The Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry 2013 Edition

In 1973, APA published the first edition of The Principles of Medical Ethics With Anno¬tations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry. Revisions were published as the APA Board of Trustees and the APA Assembly approved additional annotations. In July of 1980, the American Medical Associa¬tion (AMA) approved a new version of the Principles of Medical Ethics (the first revision since 1957), and the APA Ethics Committee incor¬porated many of its annotations into the new Principles, which resulted in the 1981 edition and subsequent revisions. The current version includes changes to the Principles approved by the AMA in 2001.

However, these general guidelines have sometimes been difficult to interpret for psychiatry, so further annotations to the basic principles are offered in this document. While psychiatrists have the same goals as all physicians, there are special ethical problems in psychiatric prac¬tice that differ in coloring and degree from ethical problems in other branches of medical practice, even though the basic principles are the same. The annotations are not designed as absolutes and will be revised from time to time so as to be applicable to current practices and prob¬lems. View an online version here.


The Opinions of the Ethics Committee on the Principles of Medical Ethics

APA’s Ethics Committee receives frequent requests for opinions. The questions center on the ethics of certain behavior and conduct. Questions and answers that address specific issues have been included in The Opinions of the Ethics Committee on The Principles of Medical Ethics. This is a historical document that reflects the specific questions and perspectives of the particular time an opinion was requested. These opinions are those of the APA Ethics Committee only, and the document does not represent APA policy. The opinions are offered to assist our members and our district branches in understanding the Principles. View an online version here.


Ethics Primer

The APA Ethics Committee developed the Ethics Primer primarily for residents and those teaching ethics. The Primer is a practical compilation of ethical thinking regarding the most frequently encountered problems facing all psychiatrists, including residents. This clinical guide and reference is sure to stimulate the discussion so integral to the dynamic tradition of ethics.

APA’s Ethics Primer may be purchased online or by phone at (800) 368-5777, Item 2317, at a cost of $47.95* plus shipping (*APA Member price: $38.86 / APA RFM price: $35.96).