From an ethical perspective, psychiatrists cannot accept gifts of significant monetary value from their patients. This guideline raises important questions regarding institutional practices related to gift-giving in academic psychiatry. The first aim of this article is to explain the ethical tensions and shared ethical commitments of the professions of psychiatry and philanthropy. The second aim is to outline a series of steps that may be undertaken to assure ethical philanthropic practices within an institution, including the establishment of a committed advisory workgroup and the creation of ground rules and safeguards for gift-giving. Each situation should be evaluated for "ethical risk," and specific measures to safeguard donors should be considered.The author outlines methods to manage, minimize, or eliminate conflict of interest issues, including identification and disclosure of conflicting interests, role separation, goal clarification, confidentiality protections, proper timing, and ongoing oversight. Three case illustrations are provided and discussed.The process of institutional engagement, dialogue, and shared problem-solving is especially important. A shared, constructive ethic will be attained only if leaders and diverse stakeholders communicate the value of the new approach through their words, expectations, and actions.Through these efforts, greater attention will be given to the concerns of people with mental illness, and academic institutions may be better able to fulfill their responsibilities to this important but neglected population now and in the future.
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View details for PubMedID 16648314