Friday, June 8, 2018 - 7:30am to Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 12:00pm
Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library (Map)
The Theology, Medicine, and Culture initiative

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, will host a two-day conference, "Prescribing Wisely: Psychiatric Medications and the Whole Person."

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.

This is the second of five conferences funded by the McDonald Agape Foundation that will engage moral and theological approaches to prescription medication.

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, Ph.D., Duke University

Theresa Coles, Ph.D., Duke University

Sue Estroff, Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill

Calvin Gross, UNC-Chapel Hill

Geetha Jayaram, M.D., Johns Hopkins University

Warren Kinghorn, M.D., Th.D., Duke University

David Mintz, Austen Riggs Center

Abraham Nussbaum, M.D., University of Colorado

Damon Tweedy, M.D., Duke University

Lynne Vanderpot, Ph.D., The Brien Center

Sarah Wilson, Ph.D., Duke University

Sidney Zisook, M.D., University of California-San Diego

Schedule of Events

Friday, June 8th

7:30-8:15am Breakfast Available
8:15-8:45am  Introduction and Statement of Problem, Context and Goals
8:45-9:45am  Panel of People who take Medication and Advocates
9:45-10:15am  Break
10:15a-12:00pm Stories and Contexts | Panel Conversation
12:00-1:00pm Lunch and Conversation
1:00-2:30pm Therapeutic Alliance and Therapeutic Communication
2:30-3:00pm Break
3:00-4:30pm Goals and Outcomes of Psychiatric Medication Prescribing
4:30-4:45pm Break
4:45-5:30pm Harvesting Ideas from the Day | Close of Day One


Saturday, June 9th

7:45-8:15am Breakfast Available
8:30-10:00am Systems and Wise Prescribing: The Role of Quality Metrics
10:00-10:30am Break
10:30a-12:00pm Medical Education and Wise Prescribing : Envisioning New Approaches to Psychopharmacology Education
12:00-1:00pm Lunch and Conversation

About “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?

MacDonald Agape Foundation