Ethical Health Promotion in Public Sector

The question of ethics in health care has been discussed by the scholars for many years. Being an integral part of the medical sphere, ethics concerns the communication and interactions between healthcare professionals and patients. Medical sector imposes a variety of ethics-related issues because it involves “urgent aspects of peoples’ lives” (Holland, 2015, p.1). The behavior and attitudes of the medical workers must comply with the basic principles of respect toward patients’ autonomy and their rights to consent and confidentiality (Holland, 2015). Accordingly, healthcare specialists are obliged to provide their services and implement health care promotion within the scope of medical ethics to preserve patients’ rights and safety.

Health care promotion is an essential factor that facilitates the well-being of the population. It is a “process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health” (Gardner, 2014, p. 30). This sphere raises many ethics-related issues evolving from the very nature of health promotion as an intentional influence on public opinion. These problems are to be resolved for the successful implementation of the practice and subsequent improvement of people’s health. According to Garden (2014), such issues are divided into two groups: “efficacy-based considerations” and “autonomy-based concerns” (p. 30). The first group addresses the effectiveness of the health promotion interventions based on the resources used. The second one questions the right of human’s free choice and independence.

Manipulation as an ethical health promotion-related issue is one of the most arguable ones among those included in the autonomy-based concerns. It is a direct influence on the system of beliefs and opinions of the public with a deliberate aim to change it (Gardner, 2014). Manipulation is closely related to deception which consists of “lying, withholding information, and misleading exaggeration” (Gardner, 2014, p. 31). Such an approach to health care promotion is unethical because it undermines the core values of the patients’ autonomy in decision making. However, the patient’s freedom of choice should be preserved, and the method of influence should obtain a character of persuasion as empowerment for a voluntary decision.

Healthcare professionals should be actively involved in the process of resolving the ethical issues in the medical sphere. Primarily, they should utilize the principles inscribed in the Hypocrite Oath to prioritize human health and life over anything else. Healthcare sector specialists must perform within the framework of consequentialism theory. It is a moral theory that implies that any actions made by a person must be driven by the value of the consequence (Holland, 2015). Being a core ethical guideline for medical workers, consequentialism targets overall positive outcomes of the methods utilized for the health improvement popularization. From this point of view, counter-manipulation, as opposed to manipulation, is a useful tool in the promotion of healthy behavior and choices of the masses (Holland, 2015). It underlines the negative consequences of the inappropriate actions to demonstrate the detrimental effects of bad decisions (consuming unhealthy products or leading a destructive lifestyle) on well-being and life duration (Holland, 2015). Medical workers should employ the different methods of influence for the active health promotion without violating any core moral principles.

In conclusion, ethical issues in health care promotion evolve by the connection between the public health sector to people’s health and lives. That is why there are so many concerns related to the appropriate patient-doctor communication and methods of influence on people within the framework of health promotion. It is essential for medical professionals to utilize the theory of consequentialism as a basis for the implementation of the interventions aimed at popularization of health care.


Gardner, J. (2014). Ethical issues in public health promotion. South Africa Journal of Bioethics and Law, 7(1),30-33.

Holland, S. (2015). Public health ethics. (2nd ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.

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