Skip to main content
  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2022

Narrative Ethics in Public Health: The Value of Stories

  • Pioneers the use of narrative in public health practice and research for raising ethical awareness

  • Provides an introduction to both public health ethics and narrative ethics in one volume

  • Serves as a training resource for use in schools of public health and other academic settings

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Public Health Ethics Analysis (PHES, volume 7)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (16 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xix
  2. Introduction to Public Health Narrative Ethics

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Defining Public Health Ethics for Practitioners

      • Leonard W. Ortmann
      Pages 3-22Open Access
  3. Public Health Ethics Narrative – Justice Concerns

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 33-33
    2. Empowering Communities That Experience Marginalization Through Narrative

      • Breanna Lathrop, Marcia Mercy R. Kasambira-Emerson, Veronica Squires, Scott Santibañez
      Pages 35-45Open Access
    3. The Boys Under My Deck: Racialized Violence and Moral Repair

      • Lindsay J. Thompson
      Pages 47-61Open Access
  4. Public Health Ethics Narratives – Surveillance and Stigma

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 81-81
    2. Disclosure of a Participant’s HIV Status During a Household Community HIV Testing Project

      • Leigh Ann Miller, Carin Molchan, Daniel B. Williams, Michael Grasso, Hilma Nangombe, Andrea Low et al.
      Pages 83-93Open Access
    3. Stories, Stigma and Sequences: HIV Cluster Detection and Response Activities Through a Narrative Ethics Lens

      • Meg Watson, Emily Michels, Andrew Spieldenner, Leonard W. Ortmann, Drue H. Barrett
      Pages 95-109Open Access
  5. Public Health Ethics Narratives – Community Values and the Value of Community

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 111-111
    2. Harm Reduction: Tipping the Balance Toward Treatment and Recovery

      • Amy L. Sandul, Veda B. Moore
      Pages 141-152Open Access
  6. Public Health Ethics Narratives – Trust and the Value of Information

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 153-153
    2. Vaccine Refusal: Stories from the Front Lines of Immunization Education

      • Mark C. Navin, Andrea T. Kozak
      Pages 155-168Open Access
    3. Using Narratives to Improve Health Literacy – An Ethical and Public Health Perspective

      • Andrea Glässel, Mirriam Tyebally Fang, Manya J. Hendriks, Nikola Biller-Andorno, The Swiss DIPEx Research Group
      Pages 169-180Open Access
    4. A Novel Approach to Public Health Crises Using Narrative Ethics

      • Susan E. Zinner
      Pages 181-192Open Access
  7. Public Health Ethics Narratives – Freedom and Responsibility

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 193-193

About this book

This Open Access book illustrates the power of stories to illuminate ethical concerns that arise in public health. It complements epidemiological or surveillance evidence, and reveals stakeholder perspectives crucial for public health practitioners to develop effective and ethical public health interventions. Because it relies on the natural and universal appeal of stories, the book also serves to introduce the field of public health to students considering a career in public health. The opening section of the book also serves as a more didactic introduction to public health ethics and the field of narrative ethics. It describes the field of public health ethics including ethical principles relevant to public health practice and research, and the advantages of a narrative ethics approach. That approach explores the problems and the ethical challenges of public health from the inside, from the perspective of those experiencing health problems to the challenges of those who must address these problems. The later sections consist of 14 chapters that present the actual stories of these public health problems and challenges. In narrative style they range from first person narratives of both practitioners and citizens, to analysis of published short stories. The problems and challenges they address include issues relating to justice concerns, surveillance and stigma, community values and the value of community, trust and the value of information, and freedom and responsibility. Specific public health topics include resource allocation, restricting liberty to protect the community from health threats, and the health impact of trauma, addiction, obesity and health disparities.


  • public health ethics
  • ethical issues in public health
  • native american ethics
  • public health research
  • database of individual patient experiences (DIPEx)
  • poverty as trauma
  • community-based participatory research in public health
  • Open Access

Editors and Affiliations

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA

    Drue H. Barrett, Leonard W. Ortmann

  • Bioethics Fellow, Cleveland, USA

    Stephanie A. Larson

About the editors

Drue Barrett

Dr. Drue Barrett is the Lead of the Public Health Ethics and Strategy Unit (PHESU) in the Office of Science, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Chair of the CDC Public Health Ethics Committee (PHEC). PHESU assists CDC scientists with ensuring that their work meets the highest ethical principles and standards of scientific integrity. This includes providing leadership, tools, technical assistance, and training on ethical and regulatory obligations. Her work has included leading the development of a training manual on public health ethics for local health officials and a public health ethics casebook (published as an open access book by Springer Press in April 2016). Dr. Barrett served for many years on CDC’s Institutional Review Boards (IRB), and chaired one of the IRBs. Other positions she has held at CDC include Acting Associate Director for Science in the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and Director of the Veterans Health Activity in the National Center for Environmental Health. Dr. Barrett received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1990 from Georgia State University. She also completed two years postdoctoral training in epidemiology and public health through CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

Leonard Ortmann

Dr. Leonard Ortmann, a Senior Ethics Consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, develops and provides public health ethics training to CDC staff, public health practitioners, and local college students in public health courses. For public health officials, practitioners and students, he co-developed a training manual on public health ethics and a 2018 Springer Press casebook on public health ethics. At CDC, he provides consultation to its various Centers and programs, its Biorepository, Emergency Operation Center, Institutional Biosafety Board, and Gift Review Panel. Dr. Ortmann came to CDC in 2008 as a Public Health Ethics Fellow from Tuskegee University, where he served as Senior Associate for Programs at its National Center for Bioethics. At Tuskegee, he also taught courses in ethics, bioethics, and research ethics and coached their Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team. Prior to Tuskegee, he taught philosophy at several universities. He is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to conduct research on the relation of science to ethics at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany. Dr. Ortmann holds B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Yale College and The Pennsylvania State University, respectively.

Stephanie Larson

Dr. Stephanie Larson is currently a fellow in clinical ethics at the Cleveland Clinic. She is a former Laney Graduate School Fellow and Dean’s Teaching Frost Fellow at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque where she taught courses on professional writing and ethics in the School of Public Administration. Dr. Larson received her PhD in English and Bioethics from Emory University. She also holds a B.S. in psychology and B.A. in English from Purdue University with honors and distinction. Interested in interdisciplinary scholarship, Dr. Larson studies the intersection of literature, public health, ethics, and medicine. Her dissertation project, “Hooked: Public Health, Parasites, and Twentieth-Century Literature of the US and Global South,” used the case study of twentieth-century hookworm eradication campaigns to propose an exchange between the fields of public health and literature. Dr. Larson has taught courses examining the intersection of public health, ethics, and the humanities at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level. Dr. Larson’s work has been published in Disability Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Clinical Ethics, The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, and Literature and Medicine.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Narrative Ethics in Public Health: The Value of Stories

  • Editors: Drue H. Barrett, Leonard W. Ortmann, Stephanie A. Larson

  • Series Title: Public Health Ethics Analysis

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Religion and Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2022

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-91443-1Published: 13 April 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-92081-4Published: 13 April 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-92080-7Published: 12 April 2022

  • Series ISSN: 2211-6680

  • Series E-ISSN: 2211-6699

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIX, 238

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 4 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)