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Responses of direct-care paraprofessional mental health staff to hypothetical ethics violations
Psychiatric Services 1997; doi:
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The study examined the responses of paraprofessional mental health direct-care staff to hypothetical ethics violations in the care of persons with mental illness. METHODS: Eighty-five paraprofessionals in a medium-sized Midwestern psychiatric facility responded to a survey that presented ten hypothetical ethics violations varying in severity. For each scenario, respondents were asked to indicate the likelihood that they would ignore the violation, confront the care provider who had acted unethically, or report the violation to an immediate supervisor or to someone in authority over the immediate supervisor. The survey also assessed the paraprofessionals' perceived skills, knowledge, and need for additional training in professional ethics. RESULTS: Survey respondents were significantly less likely to ignore situations of moderate or high severity, compared with situations of low severity, and were significantly more likely to report a moderately severe or highly severe incident than an incident of low severity. CONCLUSIONS: The response of mental health paraprofessionals to hypothetical ethics violations suggests that they are able to recognize and evaluate the severity of ethics violations and weigh the potential effects of their responses. However, their responses to hypothetical situations may not reflect how they would respond to actual ethics violations on the job.

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