Original Research

Building blocks for a public health ethics framework for the geriatric community

Laetus O.K. Lategan, Gert J. van Zyl, Willem H. Kruger
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 1| a5414 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5414 | © 2022 Laetus Lategan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 September 2021 | Published: 21 February 2022

About the author(s)

Laetus O.K. Lategan, Division of Research, Innovation and Engagement, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gert J. van Zyl, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Willem H. Kruger, Department of Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The elderly population is steadily growing in South Africa. However, there is limited strategic planning or policy initiatives to address this group’s vulnerability resulting in several public health ethical issues that need to be considered and addressed. This article aims to develop a public health ethics framework for the geriatric community with the purpose to review ethical implications when working with the geriatric community.

Methods: The Q-methodology was selected for data collection. Fifteen statements were ranked by means of a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire. Twenty-two participants from six geriatric institutions participated in the ranking of the statements.

Results: The ranking of the statements confirmed the need for a public health ethics framework to provide guidance when working with the geriatric community and to evaluate decisions about geriatric care. Such a framework should be application-based and practice-oriented which can assist in addressing unfamiliarity with public health ethics in general and can extend the capacity for decision-making. The ranking of these statements contributed to the scope of the planned framework, by considering the vulnerability of healthcare practitioners (as community of practitioners) and the geriatric community as a basis from which to promote justice in public health programmes.

Conclusion: Based on the ranking of statements, eight building blocks for a public health ethics framework were identified. The building blocks are imbedded in professional ethics and care ethics. The proposed framework can give rise to social justice in public health and the ability to evaluate what the ethical implications are for public health policies, programmes and interventions aimed at the geriatric community.


Keywords

care ethics; geriatric community; professional ethics; ethics; public health

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