Ethics Narratives in Humanitarian Aid  (ENHA)

Full citation:

  • Schwartz, Lisa, Naomi Adelson, Laurie Elit, Lynda Redwood-Campbell, Chris Sinding. “Ethics in conditions of disaster & deprivation: learning from health workers’ narratives.” CIHR Operating Grant. (2009-2012). CIHR#173548.

When healthcare professionals (HCPs) are working outside their familiar surroundings, where they have limited access to familiar resources and customs, their encounters with ethically challenging situations can be especially difficult. 

Our aims in collecting stories of ethical challenges faced by HCPs are to help understand types of ethical issues they face and the means they have employed to respond to situations – if a response was possible.

Canadian foreign aid workers and those working for international relief agencies, as well as students of healthcare professions on international electives in resource limited settings, participated in this research by sharing their stories of ethical dilemmas they encountered.  Some of these stories informed the development of a set of Cases designed to spark deliberation about decision-making in ethically challenging situations.

Dramatic reading of ENHA transcript narratives at the Points of Intersection Symposium at Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, November 26-27, 2010. Readers included (l-r) Lisa Schwartz, Matthew Hunt, Lynda Redwood-Campbell and Laurie Elit, with narrative commentary by Christina Sinding, at the podium.

Select publications from the ENHA study

Hunt MR, Sinding C, Schwartz L. 2012. Tragic choices in humanitarian healthcare practice. Journal of Clinical Ethics 23(4):338-344.

Schwartz L, Sinding C, Hunt MR, et al. 2012. Western clinical health ethics: How well do they travel to humanitarian contexts? In: Caroline Abu-Sada (ed.) Dilemmas, challenges and ethics of humanitarian action. Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen’s University Press.

Sinding C, Schwartz L, Hunt MR. 2011. Staging ethics: The possibilities and perils of research-based performance. Canadian Theatre Review 146:32-37.

Elit L, Hunt M, Redwood-Campbell L, Ranford J, Adelson N, Schwartz L. 2011. Ethical issues encountered by medical students during international health electives. Medical Education 45(July):704-711.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.03936.x

Schwartz L, Sinding C, Hunt M, Elit, L, Redwood-Campbell, L, Adelson, N, Luther, L, Ranford, J, de Laat, S. 2010. Ethics in humanitarian aid work: Learning from the narratives of humanitarian health workers. AJOB Primary Research 1(3):45-54.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21507716.2010.505898

Sinding C, Schwartz L, Hunt M, Redwood-Campbell L, Elit L, Ranford J. 2010. ”Playing god because you have to”: Health professionals’ narratives of rationing care in humanitarian and development work. Public Health Ethics. 3(2):147-156.