2023-2024 Bioethics Public Seminar Series

Can’t join us live? All seminars are recorded and posted in our recorded webinar library.

Fall 2023

Clinician Perspectives on Levels of Evidence and Oversight for Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Childhood OCD

November 15 calendar icon
  • Michelle T. Pham, PhD
  • Assistant Professor
  • Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, Department of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Approximately 10-20% of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have treatment-resistant presentations, and there is likely interest in developing interventions for this patient group, which may include deep brain stimulation (DBS). The World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery has argued that at least two successful randomized controlled trials should be available before DBS treatment for a psychiatric disorder is considered “established.” The FDA approved DBS for adults with treatment-resistant OCD under a humanitarian device exemption (HDE) in 2009, which requires that a device be used to manage or treat a condition impacting 8,000 or fewer patients annually in the United States. DBS is currently offered to children ages 7 and older with treatment-resistant dystonia under an HDE. Ethical and empirical work are needed to evaluate whether and under what conditions it might be appropriate to offer DBS for treatment-resistant childhood OCD. To address this gap, this seminar reports qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with 25 clinicians with expertise in this area. First, we report clinician perspectives on acceptable levels of evidence to offer DBS in this patient population. Second, we describe their perspectives on institutional policies or protocols that might be needed to effectively provide care for this patient population.

Michelle T. Pham, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice and the Department of Medicine in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She conducts research in the interdisciplinary field of Neuroethics and connected issues in the Philosophy of Science. Some recent topics include promoting post-trial care for patient-participants in experimental brain implant studies and decision-making in the context of pediatric deep brain stimulation. Pham also researches ways to promote engagement with patient-participants who contribute to neuroscience and neurotechnology research; and she has raised the concern that patient-participants in these brain implant studies may be exploited.

Spring 2024

To be announced.