Personal Health Responsibility: Blaming Victims or Empowering Nations?

Title: Personal Health Responsibility: Blaming Victims or Empowering Nations?
Authors: Valela, Nicholas
Date: 2010-02
Abstract: The place for personal responsibility within healthcare has been highly contested within academic debate. Meanwhile, leading causes of death within the United States have shifted to chronic disease as a result of lifestyle behaviours suggesting the need for health promotion to take action. In this position paper, I will argue that the less punitive element of personal responsibility implied by health promotion is both ethically justifiable and beneficial as a means of empowering the individual, population and healthcare system as a whole. Several counter-arguments are presented and subsequently refuted: health responsibility unduly places blame upon vulnerable populations; administration of negative sanctions based on health responsibility is difficult; and actions detrimentally affecting health are not certain to be autonomously undertaken by the individual. Arguments in favour are then presented: a dependence of the population upon the healthcare system has been created; empowerment is effective as the central guiding principle of health promotion; and sensible care for oneself should be a duty of citizens, which they are required to fulfill as the healthcare system is not in a position to act as an unlimited resource. As such, health promotion must continue to emphasize the importance of sensible health behaviour as a means of empowering individuals through self responsibility.
CollectionRevue interdisciplinaire des sciences de la santé // Interdisciplinary Journal of Health Sciences
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