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Epidemiology and bioethics : a plea for reconnecting with the public

Canadian Public Health Association
Publication Date
  • 1117 Public Health And Health Services
  • 2201 Applied Ethics
  • Institute Of Sport
  • Exercise And Active Living (Iseal)
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


The author takes the position that both epidemiology and bioethics, as practiced within academic establishments, have largely a lthough not entirely abstracted the public context of health and well-being from their respective disciplines. It is argued that by and large both d isciplines have been highly successful at what they do. However, this success can in part be attributed to each limiting its ability to look beyond its res pective academic niche and thus embrace challenges which are socially challenging, politically charged, and academically messy. This narrow focus has beco me self-serving and ultimately detracts from fundamental remits of both disciplines in protecting the public from harm. Furthermore, it may re-enfo rce the inequalities of research into health overall, whereby the greatest concentration of effort remains firmly focused upon those who already have t he most. Currently marginalized approaches to each of these disciplines – such as social epidemiology, global bioethics, and critical bioethics – provide us with platforms that challenge mainstream academic epidemiologists and bioethicists to seek out and reconnect their expertise with questions th at are more relevant to real-world situations.

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