Online Program

Ethical Principles for Public Health Ethics

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Jeffrey Spike, PhD, U of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
For those who teach ethics in public health, there is a decided lack of consensus on what to include or even what is meant by the term public health ethics.  In part this is because the field is so diverse in its disciplines, from biochemistry and microbiology to political science and health administration.  But disciplinary diversity should be a strength, though it presents a challenge to finding a single set of ethical guidelines. 

Many people who wish to teach ethics in public health wish to start with and build upon a well-founded and widely-known intellectual structure.  This often leads to the use of either the four principles of bioethics approach first proposed by Beauchamp and Childress, or the three principles approach first proposed in The Belmont Report.  The former are well-crafted and easily applicable to people with a clinical practice, while the latter are especially tailored to people working in labs.  Another way to put this is that the four principles are the paradigm most often used in a hospital ethics committee, while the three principles are the paradigm for anyone submitting a proposal to an IRB.

In this talk the presenter will introduce four new principles, the result of teaching public health ethics to over 200 MPH and doctoral students every year.  These principles are crafted with a focus on the essential defining characteristic of public health, namely populations.  In this way they differ from both the individualized clinical focus of the four principles and the experimental focus of research ethics.   

A handout will be offered to all attendees defining all three sets of principles, the four principles of bioethics, the three from the Belmont Report, and the four proposed principles for Public Health ethics.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify the four proposed new principles of public health ethics. Describe how the four principles of public health ethics differ from the four principles of bioethics and the three principles of research ethics.

Keyword(s): Ethics, Decision-Making

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a PhD in philosophy and ethics from Johns Hopkins, and have published approx. 100 articles, chapters, and books in the field. I teach the required course in the subject at the UT SPH, for approx. 250 students per year.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.