Teaching seven principles for public health ethics: towards a curriculum for a short course on ethics in public health programmes

BMC Medical Ethics
(Accessed 11 October 2014)
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmedethics/content

Teaching seven principles for public health ethics: towards a curriculum for a short course on ethics in public health programmes
Peter Schröder-Bäck12*, Peter Duncan3, William Sherlaw4, Caroline Brall1 and Katarzyna Czabanowska15
Author Affiliations
BMC Medical Ethics 2014, 15:73 doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-73
Published: 7 October 2014
Abstract
Background
Teaching ethics in public health programmes is not routine everywhere – at least not in most schools of public health in the European region. Yet empirical evidence shows that schools of public health are more and more interested in the integration of ethics in their curricula, since public health professionals often have to face difficult ethical decisions.
Discussion
The authors have developed and practiced an approach to how ethics can be taught even in crowded curricula, requiring five to eight hours of teaching and learning contact time. In this way, if programme curricula do not allow more time for ethics, students of public health can at least be sensitised to ethics and ethical argumentation. This approach – focusing on the application of seven mid-level principles to cases (non-maleficence, beneficence, health maximisation, efficiency, respect for autonomy, justice, proportionality) – is presented in this paper. Easy to use ‘tools’ applying ethics to public health are presented.
Summary
The crowded nature of the public health curriculum, and the nature of students participating in it, required us to devise and develop a short course, and to use techniques that were likely to provide a relatively efficient introduction to the processes, content and methods involved in the field of ethics.