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Public Health


Public health is a discipline focused on promoting the health of communities as well as local, regional, national and international populations. This may include public education and mandatory or voluntary health programs that promote general health and safety research (such as food &water safety and the impact of environmental hazards), preventing widespread outbreaks of disease or other serious health problems within a population (such as through vaccination and the detection and control of infectious diseases), as well as the examining, preparing for, and responding to health threats posed by natural and human-made disasters. As part of its community-based engagement, public health also examines and seeks to limit disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. Bioethical issues specific to public health include among other things the role of public health agencies in limiting personal autonomy, maintaining individual privacy in the collection of public health data, and safety and efficacy of public health programs (including vaccination protocols), and the healthcare response to pandemics.


  • Michael Sleasman and Paige Comstock Cunningham, “Bioethics, the Global Church, and Family Planning.”
  • Kristin Riggan, “Zika: An Emerging Virus with Critical Implications.”
  • Paige Comstock Cunningham, “Celebrity Epidemics.”
  • Gregory Rutecki, “OP-ED: "Transforming Initiatives," the Second Amendment, and Public Health: Reframing the Gun Control Debate.”
  • Susan Haack, “To Mandate or Not to Mandate: Politics and HPV Vaccination.”
  • Dónal P. O'Mathúna, “Disaster Bioethics.”
  • Video resource on Ebola Ethics: Bedside and Boardroom Considerations.
  • Gregory Rutecki, “Commentary: Six Years Later and Katrina Still Engenders Bioethical Debate.”
  • Ferdinand Yates, “Should Children Be Routinely Immunized?”


Public Health (General)

  • Anand, Sudhir, Fabienne Peter, and Amartya Sen, eds. Public Health, Ethics, and Equity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Barrett, Drue, Leonard Ortmann, Angus Dawson, Carla Saenz, Andreas Reis, and Gail Bolan, eds. Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe. New York: Springer, 2016.
  • Bayer, Ronald, Lawrence O. Gostin, Bruce Jennings, and Bonnie Steinbock, eds. Public Health Ethics: Theory, Policy, and Practice.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Beauchamp, Dan E. and Bonnie Steinbock, eds. New Ethics for the Public’s Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Bernheim, Ruth Gaare, James F. Childress, Alan Melnick, and Richard J. Bonnie. Essentials of Public Health Ethics. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2015.
  • Bradley, Peter and Amanda Burls, eds. Ethics in Public and Community Health. New York: Routledge, 2000.
  • Carney, Jan K. Controversies in Public Health and Health Policy. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2016.
  • Coggon, John. What Makes Health Public? A Critical Evaluation of Moral, Legal, and Political Claims in Public Health (Cambridge Bioethics and Law). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Dawson, Angus and Marcel Verweij, eds. Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Detels, Roger, Robert Beaglehole, Mary Ann Lansang, and Martin Gulliford, eds. Oxford Textbook of Public Health. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Gostin, Lawrence O. and Zita Lazzarini. Human Rights and Public Health in the AIDS Pandemic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Guest, Greg and Emily E. Namey. Public Health Research Methods. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2015.
  • Hann, Allison and Stephen Peckham, eds. Public Health Ethics and Practice. Portland, OR: The Policy Press, 2010.
  • Holland, Stephen. Public Health Ethics. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2007.
  • Hofrichter, Richard and Rajiv Bhatia. Tackling Health Inequities Through Public Health Practice: Theory to Action. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, James A. Introduction to Public Health Management, Organization, and Policy. Clifton Park, N.Y.: Delmar Cengage Learning, 2013.
  • Levy, Barry S. and Victor W. Sidel. Social Injustice and Public Health. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Marmot, Michael. The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.
  • Mikail, Claudia N. Public Health Genomics: The Essentials. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.
  • Strech, Daniel, Irene Hirschberg, and Georg Marckmann, eds. Ethics in Public Health and Health Policy: Concepts, Methods, Case Studies. New York: Springer, 2013.
  • Turnock, Bernard J. Essentials of Public Health. 3rd ed. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2016.
  • ______. Public Health: What It Is and How It Works. 6th ed. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2016.
  • Wronka, Joseph M. Human Rights and Social Justice: Social Action and Service for the Helping and Health Professions.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2008.

Out of Print

  • Coughlin, Steven S., Colin L. Soskolne and Kenneth W. Goodman. Case Studies in Public Health Ethics. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 1998.


  • Bhattacharya, Dru. Public Health Policy: Issues, Theories, and Advocacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013.
  • Bonnie, Richard J. and Ruth Gaare Bernheim. Public Health Law, Ethics, and Policy. Eagan, Minn.: Foundation Press, 2015.
  • Boylan, Michael, ed. Public Health Policy and Ethics. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004.
  • Buse, Kent, Nicholas Mays, and Gill Walt. Making Health Policy. 2nd ed. Berkshire, U.K.: Open University Press, 2012.
  • Dawson, Angus. Public Health Ethics: Key Concepts and Issues in Policy and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Fremgen, Bonnie F. Medical Law and Ethics. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2015.
  • Gostin, Lawrence, O. ed. Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader. Berkley, CA: University ofCalifornia Press, 2002.
  • ______. Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint. 2nd ed. University of California Press, 2008.
  • Hall, Mark A., Ira Mark Ellman, and David Orentlicher. Health Care Law and Ethics in a Nut Shell. 3rd ed. Eagan, Minn.: West Academic Publishing, 2011.
  • Kremer, Michael and Rachel Glennerster.  Strong Medicine: Creating Incentives for Pharmaceutical Research on Neglected Diseases.  Princeton, NY: Princeton University Press, 2004.
  • Porche, Demetrius J. Health Policy: Application for Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2012.
  • Powers, Madison and Ruth Faden. Social Justice: The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Weissert, William G. and Carol S. Weissert. Governing Health: The Politics of Health Policy. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.


  • Annas, George J. Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Baker, Lisa and Loretta Cormier. Disasters and Vulnerable Populations: Evidence-Based Practice for the Helping Professions. New York: Springer, 2015.
  • Clements, Bruce. Disasters and Public Health: Planning and Response. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2009.
  • Hunter, Nan D. The Law of Emergencies: Public Health and Disaster Management. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2009.
  • Institute of Medicine. Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities after Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2015.
  • Katz, Rebecca. Essentials of Public Health Preparedness. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett, 2013.
  • Landesman, Linda Young. Public Health Management of Disasters: The Practice Guide. Washington, D.C.: American Public Health Association, 2012.
  • Lee, Lisa M., Steven M. Teutsch, Stephen B. Thacker, and Michael E. St. Louis. Principles & Practice of Public Health Surveillance. Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Levy, Barry S. and Victor W. Sidel, eds. War and Public Health. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Moreno, Jonathan D. In the Wake of Terror: Medicine and the Morality in a Time of Crisis. Basic Bioethics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.


  • Chatterjee, Archana, ed. Vaccinophobia and Vaccine Controversies of the 21st Century. Springer, 2013.
  • Conis, Elena. Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
  • Giles-Vernick, Tamara and Susan Craddock, eds. Influenza and Public Health. London: Earthscan Publications, 2010.
  • Largent, Mark. Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.
  • Muraskin, William A. The Politics of International Health: The Children’s Vaccine Initiative and the Struggle to Develop Vaccines for the Third World.  Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1998.
  • Navin, Mark. Values and Vaccine Refusal: Hard Questions in Ethics, Epistemology, and Health Care. Routledge, 2015.
  • Offit, Paul A. Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
  • Walloo, Keith, Julie Livingston, Steven Epstein, and Rovet Aronowitz, eds. Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine’s Simple Solutions. Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins University Press, 2010.

Position Statement