Disaster Bioethics: An Introduction

  • Dónal P. O’Mathúna
  • Bert Gordijn
  • Mike Clarke
Part of the Public Health Ethics Analysis book series (PHES, volume 2)


Disasters are characterised by sudden onset, overwhelming needs and insufficient resources. While definitions differ, disasters have common characteristics. As the capacity to respond is overwhelmed, these include large logistical problems and ethical dilemmas. The need to address ethical issues in disaster relief and disaster research is increasingly recognised. This chapter introduces the developing field of disaster bioethics: identifying and addressing the ethical issues arising with disasters. The field is at its infancy, and thus this volume does not provide a theoretical foundation for disaster bioethics. Instead, this chapter, as with the book itself, draws attention to the many ethical issues that healthcare providers and researchers face in disasters. Our desire is to see ethicists and disaster responders apply various ethical frameworks and approaches to the ethical issues in disasters. This chapter concludes with a brief overview of the topics addressed in the other chapters in this volume.


Ethical Issue Ethical Dilemma Disaster Risk Reduction Disaster Relief Moral Distress 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dónal P. O’Mathúna
    • 1
  • Bert Gordijn
    • 1
  • Mike Clarke
    • 2
  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland
  2. 2.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland

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