The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released a set of new educational materials focused on democratic deliberation in public health ethics. This set of training materials builds on the content of the Bioethics Commission’s report, Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology.
As outlined in Bioethics for Every Generation, democratic deliberation is a method of decision making that can help groups to identify reasonable options for action when faced with questions or complex topics without a clear consensus about the way forward. The new educational materials are designed for public health professionals, including professionals on public health ethics committees, who often face such issues in their daily work. The Guide to Deliberation for Public Health Professionals provides a condensed overview of the purposes and process of democratic deliberation, adapted from Appendix 1 of Bioethics for Every Generation.
The Bioethics Commission has also released two sets of deliberative scenarios and facilitator guides focusing on examples of how democratic deliberation might be used in relation to scenarios public health professionals are likely to encounter. One set of materials presents a scenario related to measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination policies in an immigrant community. The other describes a scenario focused on seasonal influenza vaccination policies for employees of a local health department.
The deliberative scenarios also provide suggestions for additional reading. The facilitator guides provide specific instructions for facilitating the deliberation, including questions to guide and shape the discussion and develop and present policy recommendations. In addition, the facilitator guide provides additional reading based on the role played in the deliberation, for example, whether one is adopting the perspective of a public health nurse or a member of the affected community.
The deliberative scenarios and facilitator guides draw from contemporary ethical questions and are designed to provide public health professionals with tools to integrate bioethics in public health practice.
The new materials are designed to introduce public health professionals and public health ethics committees to the process of democratic deliberation and highlight the benefits that democratic deliberation in developing public health policy and practice.
All of these resources are available for free download, and can be integrated into or adapted for existing or new curricula. All Bioethics Commission educational materials are free and available at www.bioethics.gov/education. The Bioethics Commission encourages feedback on its materials at firstname.lastname@example.org.