National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy


Douglas Olsen, R.N., C.S., Ph.D.

Doug Olsen is an associate professor at Yale University School of Nursing where he teaches Psychiatric Nursing and Health Care Ethics. He is a contributing editor on ethical issues at The American Journal of Nursing. His expertise includes ethics in research and clinical relationships.

He is the Associate Director of the YSN Center for Health Policy & Ethics. He is also the Assistant Editor of the journal, Nursing Ethics. His publications have appeared in a variety of professional journals including Psychiatric Services, Nursing Research, The Journal of Clinical Ethics and Advances in Nursing Science. His areas of expertise include research ethics and the ethics of health care relationships.

In 1984, Dr. Olsen was the first person licensed as an advanced practice mental health nurse in Alaska. His first job following a masters in psychiatric nursing was with the Indian Health Service in Alaska. Among the various roles he filled was to provide clinical supervision for the 16 bed alcohol treatment unit, supervising the staff's counseling of clients and direct counseling of difficult or dually diagnosed clients, that is, persons with a psychiatric disorder in addition to a substance abuse problem.

Dr. Olsen built on his substance abuse experience while working as a Clinical Leader with the Psychiatric-Addictions and Emergency Service at the Waltham Weston Hospital. This service worked out of the emergency room handling psychiatric emergencies but also being responsible to assess and admit patients to the addictions treatment unit.

In progressing through his academic career his concerns and interactions have become increasingly international. He is currently the assistant editor of an international journal; has in the past several years been called to present ideas in other countries - England, Wales, Sweden, and Japan; and chaired an international committee to write guidelines for ethical conduct of international research. Most currently, Dr. Olsen was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and will spend the fall 2004 semester lecturing at the Sechenov Medical Academy's Graduate School of Nursing in Moscow, Russia.

Research interests
Ethics of clinician/patient relations, research ethics, ethical issues in mental health

Clinical practice
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness

Selected publications

Olsen, D. (1998). Toward an ethical standard for coerced mental health treatment: Least restrictive or most therapeutic? Journal of Clinical Ethics, 9, 235-246.

Olsen, D. (1997). The development of an instrument measuring the cognitive structure used to understand personhood in patients. Nursing Research, 46, 78-83.

Olsen, D. (1991). Empathy as an ethical and philosophical basis for nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 14, 62-75.


NARPA Home