Exploring the Prominence of Ethical Principles and Moral Norms in the Areas of Clinical Practice and Public Health

Author(s): Forouzan Akrami and Mahmoud Abbasi*

Background and Aim: Health policies and public health practices have always been confronting with dilemmas about proper extent to achieve its goal and conflicts with individual freedoms in its activities. This study aimed to explore the prominence of ethical principles and moral norms in the areas of clinical and public health practice. Methods: In this study, literature was purposefully searched in English in the original databases, including ISI, Scopus, Embase and PubMed in the period 1980-2016, and then, related articles were analyzed. Results: Contrary to public health activities focused on maintaining and improving the health of populations, because of the patient-centered approach of clinical practice, its activities are focused mainly on the treatment or rehabilitation. So that, the principle of respect for patient autonomy, plays a central role in clinical practice. But, in the field of public health the principle of justice has central role in order to reducing inequalities in health outcomes. Moreover, in addition to the distribution of opportunities, benefits and resources, strengthening the autonomy of individuals for healthy choices rather than restriction of autonomy is necessary. Conclusion: Public health authorities committed to incorporate ethics in their practice should create an organizational context with an ethical ground. It is strongly recommended to create a public health ethics framework for decision-making in public health policies and interventions.

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