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Prescribing Wisely: Psychiatric Medications and the Whole Person

Friday, June 8, 2018, 8AM

Please Click here to register by June 4th

June 8-9, 2018

Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Presented by the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine at Duke University, with the generous support of the McDonald Agape Foundation
How and why do psychiatric medications “work?” Often, this question is answered only by describing medications’ chemical effects. But clinicians need also to attend to medication’s broader contexts: to the influence of gender, race, culture, and spirituality; to the therapeutic relationships in which medications are prescribed and taken; to the way that clinical success is defined; and to the stories that people tell themselves and others about medication. All of these matter for how medications “work.” Join us as we consider medications within these broader contexts, and consider how they might shape wise practices of prescribing and wise institutional policies.


Click here to view a schedule of events


Key Questions:

  •  To what extent does the therapeutic alliance matter for the effectiveness of medication, and how should prescribing clinicians (and the health systems in which they work) attend to this?
  • To what extent do the outcome measures employed by efficacy studies measure symptom reduction vs. functional outcomes, and how might clinicians think separately about both symptoms and function?
  • What is the role of story and culture with regard to medication?   How can clinicians be aware of the stories that are operative for their patients?   How does culture (including race, gender) play a role?   What cultural considerations should clinicians be aware of?
  • To what extent do quality measures encourage prescribing patterns and how can quality measures be structured to encourage clinicians to make wise decisions?  Do process and outcome metrics affect prescribing differently?

Featured Speakers:

Jean Beckham, PhD, Duke University | Theresa Coles, PhD, Duke University | Sue Estroff, PhD, UNC-Chapel Hill | Calvin Gross, UNC-Chapel Hill | Geetha Jayaram, MD, Johns Hopkins University | Warren Kinghorn, MD, ThD, Duke University | David Mintz, Austen Riggs Center | Abraham Nussbaum, MD, University of Colorado | Damon Tweedy, MD, Duke University | Lynne Vanderpot, PhD, The Brien Center | Sarah Wilson, PhD, Duke University | Sidney Zisook, MD, University of California-San Diego

“Out of Our Meds” Conference Series:

Through the generous support of the McDonald Agape Foundation, “Prescribing Wisely: Psychiatric Medications and the Whole Person” is the second of five annual conferences that will engage moral and theological approaches to prescription medication use.

Questions for future conferences will include the following:

2019: Theological Approaches to Pain and Its Management

2020: “Do not be anxious about your body:” How is medical management of risks to future health compatible with Christian discipleship?

2021: Is pharmacological risk management good medicine?

McDonald Logo


June 8, 2018 | 8:00 am
June 9, 2018 | 12:00 pm


Theology, Medicine, and Culture
Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine at Duke