Variability in public health ethics education in EUPHA and ASPHER members

F. Butcher, P. Schröder - Bäck, F. Tahzib

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Abstract/Poster in journalAcademic

Abstract

Public health professionals face decisions that have far-reaching ethical implications. Despite this, the field of public health ethics is relatively new, and teaching and training in ethics for public health professionals is “highly variable in quantity and content” [Doudenkova et al 2017]. Building on a prior body of research, surveys of ASPHER and EUPHA members were undertaken to explore current levels of ethics education. Methods Online surveys were distributed to ASPHER and EUPHA members with the aims of a) exploring the current status of ethics education in public health courses in ASPHER institutions and b) understanding the ethics education of individual public health practitioners in EUPHA. Results The ASPHER survey was completed by teaching staff at 35 different institutions between April and August 2019. The EUPHA survey was completed by 232 professionals between October 2019 and January 2020. ASPHER Survey: 39% (n = 12) of institutions awarding master's degrees in public health had one or more degrees in which no ethics was taught. Only 48% (n = 13) of institutions had someone in their academic team formally qualified to teach ethics by holding a master's degree, PhD or further academic role in ethics. EUPHA Survey: Despite 79% (n = 165) of respondents encountering ethical dilemmas on at least a monthly basis, 21% (n = 48) reported that they had never had any ethics education or training, and 50% (n = 101) respondents thought that they had too little training in ethics for their professional role. Conclusions There remains a significant proportion of those studying or working in public health who do not receive any public health ethics training or education. Key messages Ethics education in public health remains variable among ASPHER organisations and EUPHA members, a significant minority lacking any ethics training. To ensure ethically reflective and sensitive public health practitioners, access to ethics education is key.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)V269-V270
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume30
Issue numbersuppl 5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

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