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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

New paper by Manuel Trachsel and Martin Grosse Holtforth: How to Strengthen Patients’ Meaning Response by an Ethical Informed Consent in Psychotherapy


Healthcare professionals including psychotherapists are legally and ethically obliged to ensure informed consent for the provided treatments comprising type and duration or potential benefits and possible risks (e.g., side effects) among others. In the present contribution, we argue that as potential benefit, informed consent can foster the patient’s meaning response. Moerman’s notion of the meaning response as the physiological or psychological effects of meaning in the course and treatment of an illness is a useful concept in explaining the effects of communicating a treatment rationale as part of the informed consent procedure. The more compelling the rational explanation of the targeted treatment effects including an explanatory model and a model of unique and common change mechanisms, the stronger the meaning response is expected to be resulting in increased hope and positive expectations with regard to the treatment.

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