Health care workers (HCWs) who participate in humanitarian aid work experience a range of ethical challenges in providing care and assistance to communities affected by war, disaster, or extreme poverty. Although there is increasing discussion of ethics in humanitarian health care practice and policy, there are very few resources available for humanitarian workers seeking ethical guidance in the field. To address this knowledge gap, a Humanitarian Health Ethics Analysis Tool (HHEAT) was developed and tested as an action-oriented resource to support humanitarian workers in ethical decision making.
While ethical analysis tools increasingly have become prevalent in a variety of practice contexts over the past two decades, very few of these tools have undergone a process of empirical validation to assess their usefulness for practitioners.
A qualitative study consisting of a series of six case-analysis sessions with 16 humanitarian HCWs was conducted to evaluate and refine the HHEAT.
Participant feedback inspired the creation of a simplified and shortened version of the tool and prompted the development of an accompanying handbook.
The study generated preliminary insight into the ethical deliberation processes of humanitarian health workers and highlighted different types of ethics support that humanitarian workers might find helpful in supporting the decision-making process.
, Fraser V , Hunt MR , de Laat S . Schwartz L The development of a humanitarian health ethics analysis tool. . 2015; 30( 4): 1 9.