Patient and citizen participation is now regarded as central to the promotion of sustainable health and health care. Involvement efforts create and encounter many diverse ethical challenges that have the potential to enhance or undermine their success. This article examines different expressions of patient and citizen participation and the support health ethics offers. It is contended that despite its prominence and the link between patient empowerment and autonomy, traditional bioethics is insufficient to guide participation efforts. In addition, the turn to (...) a “social paradigm” of ethics in examinations of biotechnologies and public health does not provide an account of values that is commensurable with the pervasive autonomy paradigm. This exacerbates rather than eases tensions for patients and citizens endeavoring to engage with health. Citizen and patient participation must have a significant influence on the way we do health ethics if its potential is to be fulfilled. (shrink)
The need to evaluate the performance of clinical ethics services is widely acknowledged although work in this area is more developed in the United States. In the USA many studies that assess clinical ethics services have utilized empirical methods and assessment criteria. The value of these approaches is thought to rest on their ability to measure the value of services in a demonstrable fashion. However, empirical measures tend to lack ethical content, making their contribution to developments in ethical governance unclear. (...) The steady increase of clinical ethics committees in the UK must be accompanied by efforts to evaluate their performance. As part of this evaluative work it is important to examine how the practice of clinical ethics committees can be informed by empirical measures. (shrink)
Vaccine hesitancy is a growing threat to public health. The reasons are complex but linked inextricably to a lack of trust in vaccines, expertise and traditional sources of authority. Efforts to increase immunization uptake in children in many countries that have seen a fall in vaccination rates are two-fold: addressing hesitancy by improving healthcare professional-parent exchange and information provision in the clinic; and, secondly, public health strategies that can override parental concerns and values with coercive measures such as mandatory and (...) presumptive vaccination. It is argued that such conflicting, parallel approaches seriously risk undermining trust that is crucial for sustaining herd immunity. Although public health strategies can be ethically justified in limiting freedoms, a parent-centered approach seldom acknowledges how it is impacted by contemporaneous coercive measures. In addition, the clinical encounter is not well suited to helping parents consider the public dimensions of vaccination, despite these being important for trust formation and informed decision-making. Efforts to address vaccine hesitancy require more consistent engagement of parental and citizen views. Along with evidence-based information, debates need to be informed by ethical support that equips parents and professionals to respond to the private and public dimensions of vaccination in a more even-handed, transparent manner. Efforts to address vaccine hesitancy need to avoid simple reliance on either parental values or coercive public policies. To do this effectively requires increasing citizen engagement on vaccination to help inform a parent-centered approach and legitimize public policy measures. In addition, cultivating a more ethically consistent strategy means moving beyond the current silos of health ethics - clinical and public health ethics. (shrink)
Bioethics is a field in which innovation is required to help prevent and respond to zoonotic diseases with the potential to cause epidemics and pandemics. Some of the developments necessary to fight pandemics, such as COVID-19 vaccines, require public debate on the benefits and risks of individual choice versus responsibility to society. While these debates are necessary, a more fundamental ethical innovation to rebalance human, animal, and environmental interests is also needed. One Health (OH) can be characterized as a strategy (...) that recognizes and promotes the synergy between human, animal, and environmental health. Yet, despite the recognition that these entities are interdependent, there is a pronounced inequality in the power relations between human, non-human animal, and the environmental interests which threatens the well-being of all. Until OH can ensure the moral status of animals and the environment and thereby the equal consideration of these interests, it will struggle to protect non-human interests and, as a result, human health. To create a sustainable health system requires a renewed concept of justice that is ecocentric in nature and an application of OH that is flexible and responsive to different ethical interests (e.g., person-centred care and physician responsibilities). Ultimately, to save themselves, humans must now think beyond themselves. Bioethics must assume a key role in supporting the developments required to create and maintain relationships able to sustain environmental and human health. (shrink)
Many publicly-funded health systems apply cost-benefit frameworks in response to the moral dilemma of how best to allocate scarce healthcare resources. However, implementation of recommendations based on costs and benefit calculations and subsequent challenges have led to ‘special cases’ with certain types of health benefits considered more valuable than others. Recent debate and research has focused on the relative value of life extensions for people with terminal illnesses. This research investigates societal perspectives in relation to this issue, in the UK.
Recent Developments Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11673-010-9235-5 Authors John Coggon, University of Manchester Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, Institute for Science, Ethics, and Innovation, School of Law Manchester UK Cameron Stewart, University of Sydney Centre for Health Governance, Law and Ethics, Sydney Law School Sydney NSW 2006 Australia Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 7 Journal Issue Volume 7, Number 2.
Public policy on alcohol in the UK relies on health promotion campaigns that encourage individuals who misuse alcohol to make healthier choices about their drinking. Individuals with alcohol-dependence syndrome have an impaired capacity to choose health. As a result, individuals with the worst alcohol misuse problems lie largely outside the reach of choice-based policy. However, such policy has been widely criticized and efforts to reform it are underway. This paper argues that the British Medical Association's recent attempt to improve policy (...) on alcohol in the UK by introducing strategies which have been shown to control drinking within populations still gives insufficient attention to alcohol dependence. This is because it fails accurately and consistently to characterize alcohol dependence and gives insufficient attention to the social challenges it presents. (shrink)
There is a long-standing failure to create an ethical culture around substance use disorders (SUDs) or dependence that actively supports people’s recovery efforts. Issues which impede the development of prorecovery environments are complex, but include the far-reaching effects of the social stigma that surrounds SUDs; and the failure to harness relational and social support that allows debates to transcend blaming individual substance users. As part of efforts to create prorecovery environments, it is important to acknowledge that bioethics debate on SUDs (...) is narrow in scope, prioritising topics related to its traditional interests in individual autonomy and novel technologies. As a result, it has not played a significant role in helping to transform the ethical cultures in which substance use recovery takes place. For example, it largely neglects the ethical challenges of developing an empathic, person-centred approach to substance use problems that listens and responds to the voices of clients. It has also participated little in efforts to develop a positive response to reducing the toxic effects of stigma. Indeed, some contributions from the field fan stigma, rather than alleviate it. The aim of this paper is to seed broader ethical debate, in academic literature and lay/professional communities, on how societies should respond to SUDs: steering a course between the critical, but narrow approach of bioethics and the empowerment discourse of evidence-based treatments. (shrink)
Health ethics can justify the use of vaccination mandates. However, policies that pressurize parents to vaccinate their children can undermine traditional clinical ethics standards. The aim of this paper is to argue that the ethical impact of vaccination mandates can only be determined in the context of the clinical encounter. Public debate on the topic tends to be general in nature and, as a result, issues that require clarification to help sustain the trust of service users are underexamined. In addition, (...) ethical debates are hampered by a toxic dichotomy in the public sphere between those who claim a move away from parental choice is necessarily a serious ethical violation; and others who neglect serious consideration of ethical issues. This predicament permits flawed ethical claims to be made, and to remain unchallenged. Despite this, ethical concerns – including those relating to trust and individual freedom – are fundamental to sustaining confidence in vaccination. This has recently been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic which made accessing childhood vaccinations harder, leading to a further decline in uptake. The pandemic has also revealed the strength of public feeling towards infection control measures that restrict peoples’ freedoms. In this paper I argue that to minimize the ethical disruption associated with the use of vaccination mandates, it is essential to focus more attention on their impact in the clinic and to accurately identify the drivers of such tensions. (shrink)
Xenotransplantation - the transfer of living tissue between species - has long been heralded as a potential solution to the severe organ shortage crisis experienced by the United Kingdom and other 'developed' nations. However, the significant risks which accompany this biotechnology led the United Kingdom to adopt a cautious approach to its regulation, with the establishment of a non-departmental public body - UKXIRA - to oversee the development of this technology on a national basis. In December 2006 UKXIRA was quietly (...) disbanded and replaced with revised guidance, which entrusts the regulation of xenotransplantation largely to research ethics committees. In this article we seek to problematize this new regulatory framework, arguing that specialist expertise and national oversight are necessary components of an adequate regulatory framework for a biotechnology which poses new orders of risk, challenges the adequacy of traditional understandings of autonomy and consent, and raises significant animal welfare concerns. We argue for a more considered and holistic approach, based on adequate consultation, to regulating biotechnological developments in the United Kingdom. (shrink)