Health promotion forms a critical part of public health, but comprehending the concept is highly controversial. Health promotion entails the process that enables people to improve or have more control over their health. People can alter their lifestyles because of the strategies of health promotion. For instance, health promotion can help persons to stop smoking, practice safe sex, and exercise more. However, health promotion strategies such as health-promoting nudges may have various ethical concerns. The article chosen for the analysis is “Ethical Criteria for Health-Promoting Nudges: A Case-by-Case Analysis” by Bart Engelen (2019). Health-promoting nudges raise many ethical concerns; therefore, it is crucial to explore how to address such issues.
Different agents practice health-promoting nudges in various contexts and with varied aims. The article provides set criteria that facilitate a comprehensive ethical evaluation of health-promoting nudges. Thus, the article narrows the gap between the theoretical debates and actual behavioral interventions applied in practice. Engelen (2019) further explores various arguments for and against health-promoting nudges based on a case-to-case analysis. The major arguments discussed in the article are that nudges threaten the liberty, rationality, and autonomy of people in decision-making. People have the right to choose what they want regarding their health. Nudges tap into psychological mechanisms that significantly impact decision-making and, therefore, successfully and intentionally influence lousy reasoning. Additionally, nudges can manipulate persons and successfully distort their choices (Engelen, 2019). By bypassing the rational capacities of people, nudges disrespect people as autonomous and rational choosers.
Healthcare professionals have a huge role in health promotion to resolve existing ethical concerns. They have to utilize evidence-based recommendations and research to improve patients’ health. Healthcare practitioners act as pioneers of healthier lifestyles; by teaching, encouraging, leadership, mentorship, and helping patients receive critical preventative services like screening, counseling, and protective procedures. The issues of rationality, autonomy, and liberty can be addressed by the codes of practice that specify how healthcare workers should fulfill their duties. The codes of practice can enable healthcare practitioners to provide neutral information which avoids verbal framing, manipulation, and coercion during health promotion. For instance, nurses have an obligation and the duty to care, respect confidentiality, uphold personal rights, avoid harm, and be fair. Such an obligation can be explained by Immanuel Kant’s theory which stipulates that people have the duty of being truthful in every declaration, which is an unconditional and sacred command of reason.
Healthcare workers should always be committed to beneficence, respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, and justice (Ward, 2019). Health promotion is a critical issue that requires the consistent making of moral decisions. Nudges should consider the rational capacities of people, and care practitioners should treat people in the same way they would want to be treated (Engelen, 2019). For example, nurses should provide adequate and truthful information regarding particular behaviors perceived to have adverse health outcomes, such as cigarette smoking. By not influencing whether people want to quit smoking, the nurses have treated humans with respect and adhered to the universal moral rule, which considers what good action can have on all people. Therefore, if everyone provided truthful information about all concepts, the overall effect would be good (Ward, 2019). Using Kant’s theory, if nurses obey the rules stipulated in the codes of practice and other ethical principles, then they would be doing the right thing.
In conclusion, health-promoting nudges raise the ethical concerns of autonomy, liberty, and rationality; therefore, exploring how nurses should address such issues is essential. Engelen’s article was chosen for the analysis, and it formulates various criteria for handling health-promoting nudges. Nudges should respect the rights of the patients despite the ethical dilemma healthcare workers face. When promoting health behaviors, it is vital to avoid manipulation, inducement, coercion, and verbal framing to allow patients to make independent decisions.
Engelen, B. (2019). Ethical criteria for health-promoting nudges: A case-by-case analysis. The American Journal of Bioethics, 19(5), 48-59. Web.
Ward, K. (2019). The development of Kant’s view of ethics. John Wiley & Sons.