Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Ethics in Public Health
Emily E. Anderson
Public health practice and research raise unique ethical dilemmas. In contrast to medicine, which is patient-centered, public health activities aim to protect and promote population health and must balance risks and benefits to individuals against those to communities or society as a whole. Students and practitioners of public health should recognize the ethical basis of public health activities and make decisions that are consistent with the underlying ethical values and norms of the field. Because key public health threats change over time, ethical values evolve, and multiple disciplines inform the efforts of public health activities, defining a distinctive ethical orientation or normative framework for public health is challenging. This entry aims to reflect areas of consensus that have emerged in recent literature. There is a societal expectation that the government should assume some degree of responsibility for protecting public health. In the United States, public health institutions have legal (police) ...