Tag: health education

Bioethics Blogs

Pornography as a Public Health Issue

Jacqueline Gahagan advocates for a national sexual health promotion strategy.

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Pornography is concerned with the development and the circulation of sexually explicit books, magazines, videos, art, and music aimed at creating sexual excitement. Public health is concerned with keeping people healthy and preventing illness, injury and premature death. With the growing use of internet-based pornography and the relative ease by which it can be accessed, the effects of “online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men” have become an important public health issue. This issue is best addressed through the development and introduction of a national sexual health promotion strategy – a strategy that includes current and comprehensive sexual health education in our primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.

Health promotion, in concert with public health, involves encouraging safe behaviours and improving health through healthy public policy, community-based interventions, active public participation, advocacy, and action on key determinants of health. I am confident that several of these strategies can be used to address concerns about the ready access to internet-based pornography. For example, health promotion initiatives that take a harm reduction approach to healthy sexuality include an emphasis on screening and testing for sexually transmitted infections, the use of condoms, a shared understanding of consensual sex, as well as the use of other safer sex interventions.

A review of existing sexual health education in Canadian schools, however, reveals that many Canadian youth do not receive the level of sexual health education they need to help them make informed decisions about sexual risk-taking.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Dr. Celia B. Fisher Addresses Health Care of Bisexual Adolescent Girls

For bisexual female adolescents,  proper sexual healthcare is difficult to obtain due to healthcare providers’ judgmental attitudes and assumptions of patient heterosexuality, and lack of opportunities for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing. Additionally, “youth openness” with healthcare providers is restricted due to stigma experienced within families of bisexual teen girls and concerns of confidentiality. These findings were published in LGBT Health, a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publication

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of Fordham Center for Ethics Education and principle investigator, along with Dr. Brian Mustanski, Director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, describe these health care disparities in the article, Bisexual Invisibility and the Sexual Health Needs of Adolescent GirlsThe study analyzed bisexual female adolescents’ perspectives on their access to health information and services provided by health care professionals.

In addition to attitudes and assumptions of healthcare providers and stigma within families, the findings also included limited school-based sexual health education as an important factor contributing to insufficient health care for bisexual adolescent girls.

“The findings from our study are consistent with the unfortunate fact that sexual health care of adolescent girls has largely been absent or focused primarily on birth control tools that do not prevent risk of HIV and other STI – especially if male partners refuse to use condoms,” notes Fisher,  “and this problem is exacerbated for bisexual girls who may be unprepared for sexual experiences with male partners or who engage in such experiences to avoid social stigma.”

The researchers concluded that practitioners must improve standard sexual health practices involving female youth by integrating nonjudgmental questions regarding bisexuality.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Global Health Education: When (and How) Global Health Issues Should Be Introduced to Youth by Emily Mendenhall

How do we foster empathy in our children? (Particularly empathy for people living in poverty – both in countries far away and neighborhoods closer to home?) We ask this question as parents and professors who are dedicated to global health research and education. As college professors, we are deeply invested in cultivating well-rounded global citizens who not only think about inequity in their backyard but also think about what inequity looks, feels, and tastes like in other cultures and places. Why is this important? We see value in this understanding because we feel that without connecting with the suffering of others, it is easy to ignore others’ suffering, how that suffering came to be, and the obligation of global citizens to do something about it. We believe that global health issues should be introduced to children in order to promote empathy at a relatively early age – late elementary school, middle school and high school. Because of this Emily has edited a series of books containing global health narratives for youth; this project has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

What is the pivotal moment that cultivates a moral obligation to recognize and do something about the suffering of others? Emily remembers sitting on a train in the Copper Canyon of Mexico as a middle schooler and thinking about why her life in rural Iowa looked so differently than that of the young Tarahumara girl she had interacted with earlier that day. Peter, on the other hand, remembers a moment in a “Cultures of Africa” course in his undergraduate curriculum that sparked his curiosity and longstanding career devoted to understand why some people suffer and die from diseases he had never heard of.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Webinar – Using Education and Training to Improve End of Life Care

NHS Employers just hosted an interesting webinar on end of life care.  The webinar covered:

Information around the roles of NHS Employers and Health Education England in supporting the end-of-life care agenda 
Good practice from Hampshire H…

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Innovative Approaches to End-of-Life Care (King’s Fund Conference))

The King’s Fund is producing an conference on September 22, 2016 in London: “Innovative Approaches to End-of-Life Care.”

This event will look at innovative approaches to palliative and end-of-life care. It will give you an overview of some of the national programs of work in this area and share lessons from good practice case studies in palliative care and local end-of-life care commissioning and delivery.

You’ll learn about measures including shared electronic records, partnerships between hospitals, hospices and services delivered in the community, and advance care planning, and how these can help you deliver the national ambitions for how palliative and end-of-life care should be delivered locally.

Opening session: End-of-life care – the national picture
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive, Hospice UK

National programme for end-of-life care
Hear about the work taking place at NHS England to support the delivery of end-of-life care across the country.
Jacquie White, Deputy Director for Long Term Conditions, Older People and End of Life Care, NHS England

Current and future challenges on death and dying in older adults
Julia will explore the challenges in improving end-of-life care for older people who make up over 70% of those who die.
Professor Julia Verne, Clinical Lead, National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, Public Health England

Making end-of-life care everybody’s business
Simon will talk about the work of Dying Matters and the National Council for Palliative Care in promoting public awareness of dying, death and bereavement.
Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and External Affairs, The National Council for Palliative Care and Dying Matters

Session two: Commissioning good end-of-life care

Making end-of-life care a priority in Merton
Learn how NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group went about developing a local end-of-life care strategy in partnership with health and social organisations, both statutory and voluntary.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Frozen Eggs and Heated Debates

Angel Petropanagos reflects on public debates about social egg freezing.

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Social egg freezing is becoming more widespread as a result of increased media coverage, clever marketing strategies, employer benefits from companies including Apple and Facebook, and government funding in Japan.

I’ve been thinking and writing about the ethical issues surrounding social egg freezing and delayed motherhood (and fatherhood) for several years. And the public debates on these topics haven’t really changed.

Proponents of social egg freezing argue that this technology can promote women’s reproductive autonomy by affording them the option of delaying genetic reproduction and parenthood in order to pursue higher education or advance their career— an option that is generally available to men on the assumption that childcare is women’s work (so there will be a woman somewhere to care for his children while he pursues his education or advances his career).

Critics of social egg freezing raise concerns about the health risks to individual women and any resulting offspring. They also worry about the fact that most women who freeze their eggs likely will never use them for reproduction. This points to a service that is characterized by unnecessary physical risks to women and needless expenditures by them, and results in a surplus of stored biological material. Further, critics worry about “false hope” that can result from the use of a technology that is not guaranteed. Some feminists worry that social egg freezing detracts attention from broader social changes, such as improved parental leave, subsidized or universal daycare, and flexible work schedules that can make it easier for women (and men) to choose to have children at a younger age.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

The plague at our doorstep: ethical issues presented by the Zika virus outbreak

By Ryan Purcell
Image courtesy of Flickr user Day Donaldson
“Never before in history has there been a situation when a bite from a mosquito can result in such a devastating scenario.” So says Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Zika virus has captured headlines since late 2015, when word spread north from Brazil that a virus, new to the Americas, may be silently causing alarming neurodevelopmental disorders in newborns. Now, the southern United States is preparing to confront the mosquito-borne illness, which “may become the first great plague of the 21st century.” As public health officials continue to work to mitigate the impact of what the World Health Organization has declared a “Global Health Emergency”, there are several important ethical issues that must be considered. These include a women’s reproductive rights, disability rights concerning those most affected, and the growing realization that poverty-stricken regions and neighborhoods will bear a disproportional burden from this disease. Each of these concerns deserves much more attention than could be provided here. My current aim is merely to point out key issues to stimulate discussion.

In a letter to the editor published in February in The Lancet, Monica Roa of American University made a compelling argument for increased attention to women’s reproductive rights in Latin America in response to the Zika virus outbreak. According to Roa, the recommendation by Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica for women to delay pregnancy is woefully out of step with the unfortunate realities of life for many women in these countries.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Notes from the field: Critical Juncture at Emory

by Lindsey Grubbs
Early in April, Emory University hosted the third iteration of Critical Juncture. This annual(ish) graduate-student-led conference focuses on intersectionality, examining interconnecting dynamics of systems of oppression including racism, sexism, ableism, and classism. This year’s conference, while maintaining a broader focus on the complexities of identity and oppression, took as its theme “representations of the body”: which bodies are, and perhaps more importantly which are not, represented in science, politics, the arts, and the academy, and what forms do these representations take?
From its beginning, the conference has links to neuroethics at Emory. One of the co-founders of the conference, Jennifer Sarrett, was a past Neuroethics Scholars Program Fellow. This year, I—one-time managing editor of this blog and current intrepid neuroethics blogger—served as one of the co-organizers.


The focus at this year’s conference was on increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement. The disciplinary backgrounds of our organizational team made this possible: we had one doctoral student in English and bioethics (me), one in public health (Ilana Raskind), a third in microbiology and molecular genetics (Kellie Vinal), and (now Dr.) Jennifer Sarrett stepped in as faculty mentor from the Center for the Study of Human Health. We arranged for a variety of presentation and conversation formats in the hopes of inspiring more cross-talk and examination: seminars with established thinkers at Emory, a poster reception with flash talks (and plenty of food and drink), and interdisciplinary panels arranged, when possible, with an eye to disciplinary diversity. For example, one panel brought together speakers from the medical school, English, history, and Behavioral Science & Health Education to tackle intersections of race, gender, and medicine.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Enhancing learning and teaching about mental health in higher education by Hanna Kienzler

An interview with Jill Anderson about the Mental Health in Higher Education project

mhhe can be found at www.mhhehub.ning.com and, on twitter, @mhhehub.

The UK-based project Mental Health in Higher Education (mhhe) sets out to increase networking and sharing innovative approaches to learning and teaching about mental health and distress across the disciplines in higher education. An important feature of this project is that it advocates for the involvement of service users and carers in mental health education, teaching and training. I had the great opportunity to interview the coordinator of mhhe, Jill Anderson (department of Educational Research at Lancaster University) about the project and new pedagogical approaches that it has engendered.

HK: What motivated the development, in the UK, of the Mental Health in Higher Education (mhhe) project?

JA: That’s an interesting question. It means thinking back a decade or so. . . . Creation of the project predated my appointment as development worker. There were, I think, two drivers.

First, there was an awareness that if people experiencing mental health difficulties are to receive the services they need, delivered in ways that work for them, then professionals need to work together across the disciplines in health and social care.  That kind of collaboration doesn’t come easy. It has to be learned, through interprofessional education initiatives aimed at beginning practitioners. And – here’s the rationale for the project – if those, in turn, are to be effective then there is a need for educators in a higher education context to learn together too.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

The CDC’s Graphic on Women and Alcohol is Flawed: Why That Matters

Last week, as part of its monthly Vital Signs report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an infographic outlining the risks that drinking can pose for women, and advising that they avoid alcohol when not on birth control. On its face, this is a benign – intuitive, even – framework: alcohol is bad for fetal development, and may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or sudden infant death syndrome. CDC’s likely intention was to present in an easily understandable fashion its new guidelines, which come out of the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. It found data-driven evidence to support the claim that “drinking any alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can cause a range of disabilities for [the] child.” In other words, the most charitable interpretation of what the CDC was trying to do here is to hammer home the idea that women should not drink while pregnant, period.

     

But the CDC’s graphic is not about fetal health: it highlights the risks of excessive drinking for women. The reason it does this is simple: since, according to the new recommendations, any amount of alcohol can harm even the least developed fetuses, and women often do not know that they are pregnant for several weeks after their first missed period, it follows that any woman who might become pregnant (to the CDC, that means any sexually active woman not on birth control) should abstain from alcohol.

The logical train that gets you from “alcohol is bad for fetuses” (which, let me be clear – nobody is questioning) to “sexually active women not on birth control should not drink” is more of a logical rollercoaster, but it’s worth the ride.

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.