Ethics, equality and evidence in health promotion: Danish guidelines for municipalities

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Aim: The Danish National Board of Health has expressed its commitment to social equality in health, evidence-informed health promotion and public health ethics, and has issued guidelines for municipalities on health promotion, in Danish named prevention packages.The aim of this article is to analyse whether the Board of Health adheres to ideals of equality, evidence and ethics in these guidelines. Methods: An analysis to detect statements about equity, evidence and ethics in 10 health promotion packages directed at municipalities with the aim of guiding the municipalities towards evidence-informed disease prevention and health promotion. Results: Despite declared intentions of prioritizing social equality in health, these intentions are largely absent from most of the packages.When health inequalities are mentioned, focus is on the disadvantaged or the marginalized. Several interventions are recommended, where there is no evidence to support them, notwithstanding the ambition of interventions being evidence-informed. Ethical considerations are scanty, scattered and unsystematically integrated. Further, although some packages mention the importance of avoiding stigmatization, there is little indicating how this could be done. Conclusions: Including reduction of health inequalities and evidence-informed and ethically defendable interventions in health promotion is a challenge, which is not yet fully met by the National Board of Health. When judged from liberal ethical principles, only few of the suggested interventions are acceptable, i.e., those concerning information, but from a paternalistic view, all interventions that may actually benefit the citizens are justified.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

ID: 112887093