Priority-setting ethics in public health

J Public Health Policy. 2002;23(4):399-412.


Unlike the well-developed system of ethical priority-setting that physicians and bioethicists have developed in the field of organ transplantation, public health lacks a standardized and publicly recognized system for making ethical resource allocation decisions. Such a system would be useful for the purpose of countering prejudice-based arguments that tend to hinder the progress of public health programs aimed at marginalized groups. By examining organ transplantation priority-setting criteria as they relate to public health issues, this article seeks to stimulate debate about the varieties of criteria that should and should not be used in public health decision-making.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Decision Making / ethics
  • Ethics, Institutional*
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Priorities / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Public Health / ethics*
  • Quality of Life
  • Resource Allocation / ethics
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility
  • United States