TO: Agency Health Education and Health Promotion Personnel
FROM: The Director
I would like to post a statement of ethics in the lobby of our headquarters, either that of SOPHE or AAHE. Obtain copies of the SOPHE Code of Ethics and the AAHE Code of Ethics. The respective organizations can provide them for you. Please examine the historical achievements of these organizations and their efforts to create a code of ethics. Compare them to the Code of Ethics for the Health Education Profession. Based on your findings, I will determine which Code we will post.
P.S. Read the article –
What are your thoughts?
Health Education Profession Assignment
DEVELOPMENT OF A UNIFIED CODE OF ETHICS FOR THE
HEALTH EDUCATION PROFESSION*
The earliest code of ethics for health educators appears to be the 1976 SOPHE Code of Ethics, developed to guide professional behaviors toward the highest standards of practice for the profession. Following member input, Ethics Committee Chair, Elizabeth Bernheimer and Paul Mico refined the Code in 1978. Between 1980 and 1983 renewed attention to the code of ethics resulted in a revision that was to be reviewed by SOPHE Chapters and, if accepted, then submitted to other health education professional associations to serve as a guide for the profession (Bloom, 1999). The 1983 SOPHE Code of Ethics was a combination of standards and principles but no specific rules of conduct at that time (Taub et al., 1987).
Following the earlier recommendation of SOPHE President, Lawrence Green, that SOPHE, AAHE and the Public Health Education section of APHA consider appointing joint committees, a SOPHE-AAHE Joint Committee was appointed by then AAHE President, Peter Cortese and then SOPHE President Ruth Richards in 1984. This committee was charged with developing a profession-wide code of ethics (Bloom, 1999). Between August 1984 and November 1985 the Committee, chaired by Alyson Taub, carried out its charge to (1) identify and use all existing health education ethics statements, (2) determine the appropriate relationship between the code of ethics and the Role Delineation guidelines, including recommendations for enforcement, and (3) to prepare an ethics document for approval as a profession-wide code of ethics. The Joint Committee found that the only health education organization to work on ethics, other than SOPHE, was the American College Health Association which included a section on ethics in their, Recommended Standards and Practices for a College Health Education Program.
The committee concluded that it was premature to describe how the Code might relate to the Role Delineation guidelines and further recommended that individual responsibility for adhering to the Code of Ethics be the method of enforcement. Finally, the Joint Committee recommended that in the absence of resources to retain expert consultation in development of ethical codes of conduct, the 1983 SOPHE Code of Ethics be adopted profession-wide and serve as a basis for the next step involving development of rules of conduct (Taub et al., 1987). While SOPHE accepted the Joint Committee’s recommendation, there was no similar action by AAHE (Bloom, 1999). The AAHE Board chose not to accept the suggestion of adopting the SOPHE Code on behalf of the profession because they realized that the membership of AAHE needed to be more completely involved in discussing and formulating a Code of Ethics before the AAHE Board could adequately represent the interests and needs of AAHE members in collaborative work on ethics with other professional societies. Health Education Profession
In September of 1991, an ad hoc AAHE Ethics Committee, Chaired by Janet Shirreffs, was charged by President Thomas O’Rourke, to develop a code of ethics that represented the professional needs of the variety of health education professionals in the membership of AAHE. They were to review the literature including other professional codes of ethics, and conduct in-depth
surveys of AAHE members. For the next two years, the AAHE Ethics Committee executed its
charge through a variety of venues including correspondence; surveys; face-to-face meetings;
presentations and discussion sessions at the national conventions of AAHE, ASHA, and APHA and
through conducting focus group sessions at strategic locations around the country. Based upon the
work of this committee, an AAHE Code of Ethics was adopted by the AAHE Board of Directors in
April, 1993 (AAHE, 1994).
Subsequently, both AAHE and SOPHE continued to focus on ethical issues. SOPHE has
promoted programming in Ethics through its annual and midyear meetings. In December, 1992 a
summary of the 1983 SOPHE Code of Ethics was prepared by Sarah Olson and distributed as a
promotional piece. The SOPHE Board of Trustees supported the summary Code of Ethics in 1994.
Since 1993, AAHE has had a standing committee on Ethics that recently proposed convention
programming and publications in the area of Ethics. Recognizing the need to work with other
organizations toward a profession-wide Code of Ethics, the SOPHE Board requested that the
Coalition of National Health Education Organizations (CNHEO) propose a strategy for
accomplishing this goal. In July, 1994, The Board adopted a motion that SOPHE support a
profession-wide Code of Ethics based on ethical principles and that AAHE should be contacted for
support in the effort (Bloom, 1999). Health Education Profession
In 1995, the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) and
CNHEO co-sponsored a conference, The Health Education Profession in the Twenty-First
Century: Setting the Stage (Brown et al., 1996). During that conference, it was recommended that
efforts be expanded to develop a profession-wide Code of Ethics. Shortly thereafter, delegates to the
Coalition of National Health Education pledged to work toward development of a profession-wide
Code of Ethics using the existing SOPHE and AAHE Codes as a starting point (Bloom, 1999). A
National Ethics Task Force was subsequently developed, with representatives from the various
organizations represented on the Coalition. It was decided that the Coalition Delegates would not be
the Task Force. As a result, the various member organizations of the Coalition were asked to
recommend individuals for inclusion on this important Task Force. During the November, 1996
APHA meeting, Larry Olsen who was the Coordinator of the Coalition of National Health
Education Organizations and delegate to the Coalition from ASHA, William Livingood (SOPHE),
and Beverly Mahoney (AAHE) led a session on ethics sponsored by the CNHEO. At that meeting,
the basic conceptual plan that had been developed by the Coalition’s Ethics Task Force was
presented. Those attending the session were asked to provide input, both for the process and the
content of the “new” Code of Ethics. Those in attendance were strong in their support for the
importance of having a Code of Ethics for the profession that would provide an ethical framework
for health educators, regardless of the setting in which health education was practiced.
The Ethics Task Force of the Coalition reviewed the two existing Codes (SOPHE and
AAHE) along with the supporting documents for both, and decided that they would enlist the
support of a consultant to assist in the unification process. Claire Stiles of Eckerd College was
subsequently retained to offer comments about the proposals of the Task Force, as well as the
various drafts that would be developed. Health Education Profession
A presentation on behalf of the Ethics Task Force was made in November, 1997 at the
national APHA meeting in Indianapolis, and the first draft of the “Unified Code of Ethics” was
presented. Attendees were asked to comment about the draft document and were asked to take
copies of the draft document to distribute among their constituencies. Comments from
professionals in the field were returned to and considered by the Task Force. A second (revised)
draft of the Unified Code was presented during the March, 1998 AAHE meeting in Reno.
Comments received from the APHA Indianapolis meeting and field distribution had been
incorporated into the document. In addition, the AAHE Ethics Committee had the opportunity to
comment about the “new” document. During the presentation in Reno, participants were put into
small groups to discuss and comment on each of the Articles included in the draft document. These
comments were subsequently incorporated into the document and the stage was set for a series of
meetings designed to elicit commentary from professionals in the field, as well as those who
attended the meetings of national professional health education organizations.
Following yet another revision of the emerging Code, presentations on behalf of the Task
Force were made in San Antonio in May, 1998 at the joint SOPHE/ASTDHPPHE meeting; in San
Diego in June, 1998 at the national meeting of ACHA; and in Colorado Springs in October, 1998 at
the national meeting of ASHA. Throughout this process, comments and suggestions about the code
were received and examined by the Task Force. Throughout this process of revision and refinement,
care was taken to retain the context and concepts present in the “parent” SOPHE and AAHE
The “first final draft” of the Unified Code of Ethics was presented in Washington, D.C., at
the November, 1998 meeting of the APHA. The Coalition also met in conjunction with APHA and
it was decided that the final draft of the Unified Code would be prepared for presentation to the
field in 1999.
In April, 1999, the Unified Code of Ethics was presented in Boston at the national AAHE
meeting. During that meeting the Coalition also met and it was decided that all delegates to the
Coalition, as well as the Ethics Task Force members would examine closely the work that had been
done, and offer comments and suggestions. It was further decided that Coalition delegates would be
sent a copy of the entire document (both the long and short forms), so that the documents could be
discussed during the Coalition’s May, 1999 conference call. During that conference call, the
delegates voted to present the Code of Ethics to their respective organizations, for ratification
during the remainder of 1999.
On November 8, 1999, the Coalition Delegates met in Chicago in conjunction with the
American Public Health Association’s annual meeting. At that meeting, the Code of Ethics was a
topic of discussion. Letters had been received from all the delegate organizations indicating that they
had approved the document. It was moved and seconded that the Code of Ethics be approved and
distributed to the profession. There being no further comments by the CNHEO delegates, the Code
of Ethics was approved, unanimously, as a Code of Ethics for the profession of Health Education.
Although the Code of Ethics is viewed as a living document that needs constant updating it
was not revised since 1999. At the Dallas meeting on Accreditation Mal Goldsmith conducted a
survey of professional preparation programs to examine the teaching of ethics within professional
preparation. The survey revealed that programs gave very little time overall to teaching about ethics.
As part of the writing team of the Unified Code of Ethics Dr. Goldsmith felt that it was time to
consider doing a revision. He presented the survey results along with a rationale for doing a revision
to the Coalition and was subsequently charged in 2005 with organizing a Task force to make
recommendations regarding ethics to the Coalition. After two years of work, four recommendations
were made and two were approved by the CNHEO: 1) to revise the Code of Ethics and 2) To
develop ethics audits for each of the health education worksites that can be used in professional
preparation programs to help teach students appropriate ethical behavior in various situations that
might arise in their worksite setting. Health Education Profession
In 2008 a second Task Force was formed and charged with revising the Code of Ethics.
After two years of work their revised Code was submitted to the Coalition for approval. In
February of 2011 the Coalition approved the revised Code and it is now being released to the
profession. Presently an article is being prepared for publication in a SOPHE Journal and then for
reprinting in the American Journal of Health Education. This article will provide details on the
process, link in to historical developments and highlight the changes made. Plans for developing
the ethics audits will also be addressed in the near future.
As we move forward it is important to impress upon the profession the need to not only
promote ethical behavior in our practice but to have in place a plan to systematically review the
Code every five years to assure that it is up-to-date and relevant to the needs and best practices of
Association for the Advancement of Health Education (1994). Code of ethics for health educators,
Journal of Health Education, 25(4), 197-200.
Bloom, F.K. (1999). The Society for Public Health Education: Its development and contributions:
1976-1996. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University.
Brown, K.M., Cissell, W., DuShaw, M., Goodhart, F., McDermott, R., Middleton, K., Tappe, M., &
Welsh, V., (1996). The health education profession in the twenty-first century: Setting the stage.
Journal of Health Education, 27(6), 357-364.
Taub , A., Kreuter, M., Parcel, G., & Vitello, E. (1987). Report from the AAHE/SOPHE Joint
Committee on Ethics. Health Education Quarterly. 14(1), 79-90.
Members of the Ethics Task Force (1999):
Larry K. Olsen (ASHA), Committee Chair
Mal Goldsmith (ASHA)
June Gorski (SOPHE)
Wanda Jubb (SSDHPER)
Ken McLeroy (PHEHP Section, APHA)
Alyson Taub (SHES Section, APHA)
Members of the Ethics Task Force (2011):
Mal Goldsmith, Chairperson
· This introduction was prepared through the joint efforts of Ellen Capwell (SOPHE), Becky
Smith (AAHE), Janet Shirreffs (AAHE), and Larry K. Olsen (ASHA) in 1999 and added to by Mal
Goldsmith in 2011.