A code of ethical conduct for the public health profession

Ulrich Laaser*, Peter Schröder-Bäck, Eliudi Eliakimu, Katarzyna Czabanowska, Moaz Abdelwadoud, Ibukun Adepoju, Muhammad Mahmood Afzal, Muhammad Wasif Alam, John Ashton, Vesna Bjegovic-Mikanovic, Bettina Borisch, Genc Burazeri, Sara Carr, Lisa Conti, Kira Fortune, Luis Galvão, Iman Hakim, N. K. Ganguly, Joshua Godwin, James HeringtonTomiko Hokama, Howard Hu, Ehimario Igumbor, Paul Johnstone, Mitike Getnet Kassie, Laura Kahn, Bruce Kaplan, Gretchen Kaufman, Daniella Kingsley, Joann Lindenmayer, George Lueddeke, Qingyue Meng, Jay Maddock, John Middleton, Geoff McColl, Thomas Monath, Joanna Nurse, Robert Otok, Giovanni Piumatti, Srinath Reddy, Helena Ribeiro, Barbara Rimer, Gautam Saha, Flavia Senkubuge, Neil Squires, Cheryl Stroud, Charles Surjadi, John Woodall

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: Agreeing on a Code of Ethical Conduct is an essential step in the formation and definition of a public health profession in its own right. In this paper we attempt to identify a limited number of key ethical principles to be reflected as professional guidance. Methods: We used a consensus building approach based on narrative review of pivotal literature and theoretical argumentation in search for corresponding terms and-in a second step-attempted to align them to a limited number of key values. The resulting draft code of ethical conduct was validated employing a framework of the Council of Europe and reviewed in two quasi Delphi rounds by members of a global think tank. Results: The alignment exercise demonstrated the acceptability of five preselected key principles: solidarity, equity, efficiency, respect for autonomy, and justice whereas three additional principles were identified during the discussion rounds: common good, stewardship, and keeping promises. Conclusions: In the context of emerging and re-emerging diseases as well as increase in lifestyle-related diseases, the proposed Code of Ethical Conduct may serve as a mirror which public health professionals will use to design and implement public health interventions. Future public health professional chambers or an analogous structure should become responsible for the acknowledgement and enforcement of the Code.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSouth Eastern European Journal of Public Health
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2017 Laaser et al.


    • Code of ethics
    • Moral obligations
    • Population ethics
    • Principle-based ethics
    • Professional standards
    • Public health profession
    • Societal responsibility
    • Utilitarian ethics


    Dive into the research topics of 'A code of ethical conduct for the public health profession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this