Bioethics Blogs

New Bioethics Commission Public Health Case Studies Now Available

Last week, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released a set of Public Health Case Studies that provides professionals and educators with opportunities to explore ethical issues that might arise in the course of their work or students’ future work. The case studies explore contemporary issues that have been addressed by the Bioethics Commission.

The set includes a background document and two case studies. The Public Health Case Studies Background provides information on the Bioethics Commission’s work on topics relevant to public health researchers and practitioners, a description of the newly available cases, and a list of additional resources to support educators and professionals that use case studies to teach and learn about public health ethics. Case 1 focuses on the ethical use of liberty-restricting public health measures such as quarantine, and uses a scenario in which the reader is asked to assess a situation and advise a local school board on what action to take. Case 2 addresses communication during a public health emergency, and presents a situation in which a local public health department must decide how to handle public communication in the midst of a rapidly evolving public health emergency.

The case studies describe case scenarios, provide a brief analysis of the ethical dimensions of the cases and the Bioethics Commission’s consideration of the topics, and present questions for group discussion about the cases.

Additional public health case studies are under development and will be released upon completion. All Bioethics Commission educational materials are free and available at

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.