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Public values related to inequalities in health subject of seminar on Feb. 22

16 Feb 2012

A study that examined values regarding social inequalities of health will be the subject of a seminar on Feb. 22 by an assistant professor from the University of Washington who is visiting CHEPA.

Erika Blacksher, from the Department of Bioethics and Humanities, will share her research findings that indicate Americans have three distinct interpretations of what constitutes a ‘fair’ response to social inequalities in health. The seminar, entitled Health Equity, Public Values and Public Deliberation, will take place on Feb. 22, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in CRL B-119. All are welcome to attend.

The exploratory study she and colleagues conducted aimed to better understand the values of Americans regarding the fact that disadvantaged people generally die younger and suffer more disease than their better-off counterparts. The issue has become a major policy concern in the United States, yet little is known about how public values inform public opinion of such inequalities in health, or initiatives to address them.

The findings suggest that the public’s concerns over the issue are moderated when they conflict with other values, such as efficiency and priority to those who are sickest. The study also confirmed the heterogeneity found in ethical and empirical investigations of equity and justice. Blacksher will also address how this study led her to reframe the questions the public should be asked and the tools they should be given to work with.

The seminar will be available remotely for those who are unable to attend. Click here for instructions on how to listen to the presentation through Elluminate.

Blacksher’s research examines the ethical and policy implications of the social determinants of and social inequalities in health. She is particularly interested in these issues as they relate to U.S. health reform, health promotion and community participation in health, the developmental origins of health, and theories of social justice in public health.

Prior to joining the University of Washington, Blacksher was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University in New York City and a scholar of public health ethics and policy at The Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y. She has a master’s degree and a PhD in bioethics from the University of Virginia, and undergraduate degrees in both philosophy and journalism from the University of Kansas.

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