Ethical issues in mental health research: the case for community engagement

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Purpose of review

To describe community-engaged research (CEnR) and how it may improve the quality of a research study while addressing ethical concerns that communities may have with mental health and substance abuse research. This article includes a review of the literature as well as recommendations from an expert panel convened with funding from the US National Institute of Mental Health.

Recent findings

CEnR represents a broad spectrum of practices, including representation on institutional ethics committees, attitude research with individuals from the study population, engaging community advisory boards, forming research partnerships with community organizations, and including community members as co-investigators.


CEnR poses some challenges; for example, it requires funding and training for researchers and community members. However, it offers many benefits to researchers and communities, and some form of CEnR is appropriate and feasible in nearly every study involving human participants.

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