• University of Pennsylvania

The Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care aims to elevate the national conversation about the ethics of research, treatment, and delivery of behavioral health care.


The ScattergoodEthics Program is based in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

therapeutic privilege

  • jme
Borderline personality disorder, therapeutic privilege, integrated care: is it ethical to withhold a psychiatric diagnosis?
Read the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics paper



  • child autism
COVID-19 Vaccination of Minors Without Parental Consent
Read the JAMA Pediatrics paper


  • cannabis
Recreational cannabis, racial justice, and an ethical way forward for Pennsylvania
Read the Penn Live article

More From ScattergoodEthics

In the News

Philadelphia Inquirer | Pa. doctor offering free mask-exemption letter for parents faces possible discipline | September 2021

Times Union | Commentary: With vaccine stance, Nurses Association sets poor example | August 2021

WOSU All Sides with Ann Fisher | Legal And Ethical Issues Surrounding COVID Vaccine Mandates | August 2021

US News & World Report | Half of U.S. Teens Plan to Get COVID Shot, But Can Numbers Go Higher? | July 2021

PUBS Podcast | Ethical Considerations in Mental Health Research and Care Delivery | April 2021

All Sides with Ann Fisher | Moral And Ethical Complexities Of COVID-19 | March 2021

The Daily Pennsylvanian | Penn Med experts question Trump's COVID-19 treatment plan and his downplaying of virus | October 2020

Penn Live | Recreational cannabis, racial justice, and an ethical way forward for Pennsylvania | September 2020

New York Post | Kanye West needs help, but mental-health laws make it tough to intervene | July 2020

Psychology Today | When Autism Advocacy Is "Partial" | June 2020

WHYY The Pulse | Social Media’s ‘Infodemic’ | June 2020

WOSU Radio | Pandemic Ethics | June 2020

WHYY | Protests, masks and public health: where do my rights end and yours begin? | May 2020

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Should coronavirus lockdown protesters waive their medical care? Some medical ethicists think so. | May 2020

The New York Times | What’s Going to Happen to Junior, Now That His Mother Is Dead? | May 2020

All Inclusive | How Do Healthcare Providers Treat Patients Equally During the COVID-19 Pandemic? | April 2020

WHYY | Finding Help for Schizophrenia in a ‘Broken’ System | April 2020

Medscape | Suicidal Patients Often Excluded From Antidepressant Trials | February 2020

The Atlantic | Your Chemical Romance | January 2020

Psymposia | As Legal Psychedelic Therapy Emerges, Ethicists Urge for More Comprehensive Frameworks to Address Sexual Abuse | November 2019

WHYY | The Myth of Mental Illness and Gun Violence | August 2019

The Wall Street Journal | After Trump Blames Mental Illness for Mass Shootings, Health Agencies Ordered to Hold All Posts on Issue | August 2019


FEBRUARY 11 - 28, 2021 | Opening Night of Sin Eaters by Theatre Exile (ScattergoodEthics is a community partner of this show) | Buy tickets

OCTOBER 1, 2020 | Mental Health and Medical Ethics In Times of Crisis | CoVid-19: Critical/Creative Studies in Music, Image, and Text | Register

 MARCH 3, 2020 | Ethics in Psychedelic Psychiatry | University of Pennsylvania

MARCH 23, 2017 | Grand Rounds in Psychiatry, Steven Sharfstein: "The Case for Caring Coercion" | The University of Pennsylvania

FEBRUARY 8, 2017 | Ground Rounds in Psychiatry, Dominic Sisti: "Bioethics Behind Bars: Addressing the Mental Health Care Crisis in Jails and Prisons" | Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine

DECEMBER 21, 2016 | Research Seminar in Population Health, Dominic Sisti: "Bioethics Behind Bars: Ethical Challenges in Jail and Prision Mental Health Care" | NYU Langone School of Medicine

APRIL 21, 2016 | Grand Rounds in Psychiatry: Giving Aslyum? Ethical Issues in Long-Term Psychiatric Care | The University of Pennsylvania

JANUARY 21, 2016  | Giving Asylum? The Ethics of Long-Term Care for People with Severe Mental Illness | The Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital | Hartford, CT

JULY 22, 2015 | A Debate on Treating Mental Illness: Should We Bring Back Asylums? | The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco |  Listen


About Us

The Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care (ScattergoodEthics) is housed within the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.  

ScattergoodEthics is dedicated to education, research, and resource development for the field of psychiatric, mental, and behavioral healthcare ethics. The program engages in scholarly research, trains and educates clinicians and scholars in mental and behavioral healthcare ethics, sponsors programs and public events, and promotes and advocates for greater attention to the ethical dimensions of diagnosis and treatment.  ScattergoodEthics is funded in large part by the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation. 

Visit the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy

Bioethics Certificate Program


Each resident will have a primary mentor. Faculty Champion: Dominic Sisti | Resident Champions: Elaine Xu and Erika Sims | Additional mentorship referrals may be made based on the resident’s needs.


Required attendance at 90% of the ethics didactics, with makeup sessions if missed. Reading as it pertains to research subject will be necessary and reviewed with mentor.

Experiential Learning

Research experience is required in the form of a researching a behavioral health care ethics topic or contributing to an ethics research project. Utilization of elective time for research experience is optional, though not required. Individual schedules will be discussed based on resident needs and interest as amount of time required will differ based on specific interests.

Scholarly Pursuit

Significant contribution to a publication on an ethics topic. Residents will lead one project, with mentorship, and will aim to submit a manuscript for publication by December of PGY-4 year. Present research at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Institute for Psychiatric Services, or another appropriate professional meeting. Optional: Presentation at brain forum or other didactic experience within the residency.



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