Think Tank Report Urges More Ethics Education for Public Health Professionals

The field of public health has had no written code of ethics to guide professionals in addressing the wide variety of ethical dilemmas that arise in their practice.

To address this issue, the Hastings Center staff produced a report, published in the American Journal of Public Health (February 2002) recommending actions for promoting discussion and advancement of ethics in public health and developed a model curriculum for use in schools of public health and in-service training programs for practitioners.

Founded in 1969, the Hastings Center, Garrison, N.Y., is a research institute that explores ethical questions in health care, biotechnology and the environment.

Key Recommendations

The report, "Ethics and Public Health: Forging a Strong Relationship," made a number of recommendations for promoting discussion and advancement of ethics in public health, including the following:

  • Leaders in public health, including the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should take the lead in developing conferences and symposia on ethics and public health to attract and encourage scholars and practitioners.
  • Accreditation for schools of public health should involve an increase in ethics instruction requirements.
  • The public health profession should develop continuing education requirements and make ethics prominent among them.