This paper seeks to contribute toward a better understanding of commercial determinants of health by proposing a set of ethical principles that can be used by researchers and other health actors in understanding and addressing Commercial Determinants of Health (CDoH).
The paper is mainly based on a systematic review and qualitative analysis of the existing literature on CDoH and public health ethics frameworks. We conducted searches using selected search engines (Google Scholar and Pubmed). For ethical challenges relating to CDOH, our searches in Google Scholar yielded 17 papers that discussed ethical challenges that affect CDoH. For ethical frameworks relevant for CDOH, our searches in Google Scholar and Pubmed yielded 15 papers that clearly described bioethical models including relevant ethical principles. Additionally, we consulted eight experts working on CDoH. Through these two methods, we were able to identify ethical challenges as well as norms and values related to CDoH that we offer as candidates to comprise a foundational ethics framework for CDoH.
Discussing risk factors associated with CDH frequently brings public health into conflict with the interests of industry actors in the food, automobile, beverage, alcohol, ammunition, gaming and tobacco industries including conflict between profit-making and public health. We propose the following candidate ethical principles that can be used in addressing CDoH: moral responsibility, nonmaleficence, social justice and equity, consumer sovereignty, evidence-informed actions, responsiveness, accountability, appropriateness, transparency, beneficence and holism.
We hope that this set of guiding principles will generate wider global debate on CDoH and help inform ethical analyses of corporate actions that contribute to ill health and policies aimed at addressing CDoH. These candidate principles can guide researchers and health actors including corporations in addressing CDoH.