Comparing the World Psychiatric Association and European Psychiatric Association Codes of Ethics: Discrepancies and shared grounds

Noemi Sansone, Samuel Tyano, Antonio Melillo, Meryam Schouler-Ocak, Silvana Galderisi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Codes of ethics provide guidance to address ethical challenges encountered in clinical practice. The harmonization of global, regional, and national codes of ethics is important to avoid gaps and discrepancies. Methods We compare the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) and the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Codes of Ethics, addressing main key points, similarities, and divergences. Results The WPA and EPA codes are inspired by similar fundamental values but do show a few differences. The two codes have a different structure. The WPA code includes 4 sections and lists 5 overarching principles as the basis of psychiatrists' clinical practice; the EPA code is articulated in 8 sections, lists 4 ethical principles, and several fundamental values. The EPA code does not include a section on psychiatrists' education and does not contain specific references to domestic violence and death penalty. Differences can be found in how the two codes address the principle of equity: the EPA code explicitly refers to the principle of universal health care, while the WPA code mentions the principle of equity as reflected in the promotion of distributive justice. Conclusions We recommend that both WPA and EPA periodically update their ethical codes to minimize differences, eliminate gaps, and help member societies to develop or revise national codes in line with the principles of the associations they belong to. Minimizing differences between national and international codes and fostering a continuous dialogue on ethical issues will provide guidance for psychiatrists and will raise awareness of the importance of ethics in our profession.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 May 2024


  • death penalty
  • distributive justice
  • domestic violence
  • education
  • ethical principles
  • psychiatry


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