Public Health Practitioners
Human Research Protection Program
The Department is dedicated to the highest ethical and legal standards of the practice of public health and the protection of human subjects research.
The Department is guided by the ethical principles in the Belmont Report (respect for persons, beneficence, justice). The Belmont Report addressed public health practice as well as research.
- Respect for persons is the obligation to protect the personal dignity and autonomy of individuals and special protection of those persons with diminished autonomy by ensuring an appropriate process of consent, protections for privacy and confidentiality, and additional safeguards for the rights of vulnerable populations
- Beneficence is the obligation to secure the well-being of participants in research by maximizing benefits and ensuring risks to participants are minimized
- Justice involves substantive obligations such as ensuring fairness in the distribution of research benefits and burdens, and procedural obligations such ensuring consistency in applying standards, transparency of decision-making, and ensuring a meaningful process of public engagement
Most of the professional public health employees of the department are routinely engaged in public health practice, not human subjects research. The distinctions between public health practice and human subjects research are not always explicitly clear. DOH expects that public health officials conducting public health practice and quality improvement activities understand and apply their obligation to protect the rights and welfare of participants in these activities.