Preventive Ethics

Continuing education online courses in Preventative Ethics.

P18. Preventative Care: Preventative Ethics, 30 CE-hours, $63


Professor Rudolf Klimes, PhD, welcomes you to this online course. Keep going.

START the course here. TAKE the exam at the end. PAY after the exam.

Course Description:

The goal of prevention is to eliminate or reduce harmful behavior. That includes unethical and illegal acts. Prevention Ethics examines if these preventive measures are ethical or not.

Course Format: Online linked resources and lectures that you can use anytime 24/7. One multi-choice test.

Course Developers and Instructors: R. Klimes, PhD, MPH (John Hopkins U), author of articles on Preventative Care and prevention basic modalities. 

Course Time: About thirty hours for online study, test taking with course evaluation feedback and certificate printing.

Course Test: Click here for the self-correcting test  that requires 75% for a passing grade.

P18.  Preventive Ethics, 3 CE course hours 

Preventing What? What Questions? What Principles? Doing Cases?


1. Ethical Basics of Prevention

1.1 Prevention deals with all social and educational issues.  Prevention disciplines include Alcohol and other drug problems, Violence and gun use, Underage drinking, Diversity, HIV/AIDS, Child and domestic abuse, Impaired driving, Suicide, Tobacco use, Mentoring, Safety and injury prevention, Conflict reduction and resolution, Clinical prevention services.

1.2  Human service professionals attempt to provide the highest level or care and prevention. Some specialize in one or the other, many in both.

1.3 “The determination of good and bad depends entirely upon the integrity of the rational process.” Socrates.

“Though ethics requires training and rational capacity, it can largely be learned and applied by just about anyone.” Plato.

1.4 Schools, churches, law enforcement and many nonprofit and religious organizations are in the business of prevention: Schools, churches, synagogues and many religious organizations foster positive living without destructive behavior, crime and sin. Many social, religious and educational services include  relapse prevention.

1.5 Prevention in many cases concerns especially children and youth: Society tries to prevents children and youth from specific sexual activities, consumption of alcohol etc. Some of these activities are illegal for children and youth.

1.6 The goal of prevention is to eliminate or reduce harmful behavior. That includes unethical and illegal acts. Many acts condemned as unethical are permitted by law and vice versa. Good people also do bad things. Prevention ethics also includes the services which would make relapse or return for further services unnecessary.

2. Asking Questions for Prevention

2.1  The basic case question: “What if…?” Answering this question lets a person look ahead to see possible outcomes. Then he or she can examine them on an ethical basis. Decisions about prevention need to be made on logic and principles, not on emotions. Someone said that an unexamined decision is one that should not be made at all.

2.2 Sample questions: What is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior? When are substances used and when are they abused? Are other’s issues your issues? When is it right to interfere in another’s behavior? When is something permissible for adults but not for children?

2.3 How does prevention fit into health care? “Prevention is the highest form of healing. Drugs and surgery have their place in the holy art of healing, but the need to resort to invasive treatment must also be regarded as a failure in prevention.”

“We know that prevention is the highest form of healing from Exodus 15:26: “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and keep all of His commandments, I will put none of the diseases upon you that I have put upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord your physician.” God is saying here that He is preventing disease. Since, in preventing disease, we are emulating God, prevention is the highest form of healing. …God in this context is like a physician who says to his patient, “Do not eat this food or it will make you sick.”

“Physicians do not usually discuss lifestyle changes with their patients. Prevention is on the back burner, and someone has to get burnt to get treated. Our secular society deems it reasonable to pay tens of thousands of dollars for coronary bypass surgery but unreasonable to pay a few dollars for prevention.” Source: Jewish

2.4 Questions stretch the mind. “Once someone’s mind is stretched by a new idea it can never return to its original form.” Oliver Wendell Holmes.

3. Ethical Principles of Prevention

3.1  “Code of Ethical Conduct for Prevention Professionals*


  1. perform professional duties in accordance with the law and the highest moral principle.
  2. observe three precepts of truthfulness, honesty and integrity.
  3. be faithful and diligent in discharging professional responsibilities.
  4. be competent in discharging professional responsibilities.
  5. safeguard confidential information and exercise due care to prevent its improper disclosure.
  6. do not maliciously injure the professional reputation or practice of colleagues, clients, or employees


The Principles of Ethics are models of standards of exemplary professional conduct. These principles of the code of Ethical Conduct for Prevention professionals express the professional’s recognition of responsibilities to the public, to service recipients, and to colleagues. They guide members in the performance of their professional responsibilities and express the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct. The Principles call for commitment to honorable behavior, even at the sacrifice of personal advantage.

These principles should not be regarded as limitations or restrictions, but as goals toward which Prevention Professionals should constantly strive. They are guided by core values and competencies that have emerged with the development of the field.


I. Non-Discrimination

Prevention Professional shall not discriminate against service recipients or colleagues based on race, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, economic condition, or physical, medical or mental disability. Prevention professionals should broaden their understanding and acceptance of cultural and individual differences, and in so doing, render services and provide information sensitive to those differences.

II. Competence

A Prevention Professional shall observe the profession’s technical and ethical standards, strive continually to improve personal competence and quality of service delivery, and discharge professional responsibility to the best of his ability. Competence is derived from a synthesis of education and experience. It begins with the mastery of a body of knowledge and skill competencies. The maintenance of competence requires a commitment to learning and professional improvement that must continue throughout the professional’s life.

a. Professionals should be diligent in discharging responsibilities. Diligence imposes the responsibility to render services carefully and promptly, to be thorough, and to observe applicable technical and ethical standards.

b. Due care requires professionals to plan and supervise adequately and evaluate, to the extent possible, any professional activity for which they are responsible.

c. Prevention Professionals should recognize limitations and boundaries of competencies and not use techniques or offer services outside of their competencies. Professionals are responsible for assessing the adequacy of their own competence for the responsibility to be assumed.

d. Ideally, Prevention Professionals should be supervised by Certified Prevention Professionals. When this is not available, Prevention professionals should seek peer supervision or mentoring from other competent Prevention Professionals.

e. When Prevention Professionals have knowledge of unethical conduct or practice on the part of an agency or prevention professional, they have an ethical responsibility to report the conduct or practices to appropriate funding or regulatory bodies or to the public.

f. Prevention Professionals should recognize the effect of impairment on professional performance and should be willing to seek appropriate treatment for themselves.

III. Integrity

To maintain and broaden public confidence, Prevention Professionals should perform all responsibilities with the highest sense of integrity. Personal gain and advantage should not subordinate service and the public trust. Integrity can accommodate the inadvertent error and the honest difference of opinion. It cannot accommodate deceit or subordination of principle.

a. All information should be presented fairly and accurately. Each professional should document and assign credit to all contributing sources used in published material or public statements.

b. Prevention Professionals should not misrepresent either directly or by implication professional qualifications or affiliations.

c. Where there is evidence of impairment in a colleague or a service recipient, a Prevention professional should be supportive of assistance or treatment.

d. A Prevention Professional should not be associated directly or indirectly with any service, products, individuals, and organization in a way that is misleading.

IV. Nature of Services

Practices shall do no harm to service recipients. Services provided by Prevention professionals shall be respectful and nonexploitive.

a. Services should be provided in a way that preserves the protective factors inherent in each culture and individual.

b. Prevention Professionals should use formal and informal structures to receive and incorporate input from service recipients in the development, implementation and evaluation of prevention services.

c. Where there is suspicion of abuse of children or vulnerable adults, the Prevention Professional shall report the evidence to the appropriate agency and follow up to ensure that appropriate action has been taken.

V. Confidentiality

Confidential information acquired during service delivery shall be safeguarded from disclosure, including – but not limited to – verbal disclosure, unsecured maintenance of records, or recording of an activity or presentation without appropriate releases. Prevention Professionals are responsible for knowing the confidentiality regulations relevant to their prevention specialty.

VI. Ethical Obligations for Community and Society

According to their consciences, Prevention Professionals should be proactive on public policy and legislative issues. The public welfare and the individual’s right to services and personal wellness should guide the efforts of Prevention Professionals to educate the general public and policy makers. Prevention Professionals should adopt a personal and professional stance that promotes health.

*Adapted from the National Association of Prevention Professionals and Advocates (NAPPA) Code of Ethics, 1995  Source:

3.2 Prevention is embedded in the particular culture of the client:  Different cultures have different ethical standards and thus prevention issues. Cultures may be differentiated geographically, socially, nationally etc.

3.3 Ethical Principles or Codes of Ethics need to be enforced: In most cases, committees are assigned to enforce the ethical standards of an organization.

4. Living Cases in Prevention Ethics

Respond in writing to four cases:

4.1  Mark is a youth prevention worker doing drug education in his community. Mark smokes. What ethical issues are raised by his behavior? What standards of personal behavior should the staff be held to? How do you articulate these standards?

4.2  Mary is  a prevention coordinator. She just inherited 10,000 shares each in a brewing company and a tobacco company. Does that ownership conflict with her professional role? What should she do? What does she have to do? What would you do if you were her supervisor?

4.3  Joes works a street worker for a prevention center. Through his informal network, he heard confessions about criminal activity, impending gang fights, large cocaine purchases, and a possible attempt at suicide. What ethical standards should guide his actions? What should he do in each of the four situations? To whom can Joe talk about this?

4.4 Select and respond to one of the prevention cases presented here: Rape  Ethics Case Studies  Health Care Ethics Cases  Prevention via Alternate Care Case


 Ethics Library                                        

Explore your concerns in ethics at three of the following sites:

Applied Ethics Resources on WWW   Ethics  Ethics SanDiego     Classic Ethics TextsGlobalEthics  EthicsWorld  GoodCharacter  DoingEthics  CenterforEthics   Onlineethics   Research-ethics    Bioethics   CYBER-ETHICS   Core Curriculum: Bioethics Terms 


Explore some of these sites to gain a rounded view on the topic.

Book; Critical Incidents: Ethical Issues in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment by William White, which can be purchased by sending $17.95 plus $4.00 shipping and handling to: Lighthouse Training Institute 720 West Chestnut St. Bloomington, IL 61701

The Ethics Center ™ 

Note: Some of the ideas and sources for this course come from the works of Steve Sarian, MA, CCS, CPS.


TEST:  Study this web-site for 3 hours for an approved (RN-CEP 16144) 3-hours Continuing Education Certificate (0.3 CEUs) Click here for the self-correcting test


Leave a Reply