How do 'Public' Values Influence Individual Health Behaviour? An Empirical-Normative Analysis of Young Men's Discourse Regarding HIV Testing Practices

Knight, Rod; Small, Will; Shoveller, Jean
November 2016
Public Health Ethics;Nov2016, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p264
Academic Journal
Philosophical arguments stemming from the public health ethics arena suggest that public health interventions ought to be subject to normative inquiry that considers relational values, including concepts such as solidarity, reciprocity and health equity. As yet, however, the extent to which 'public' values influence the 'autonomous' decisions of the public remains largely unexplored. Drawing on interviews with 50 men in Vancouver, Canada, this study employs a critical discourse analysis to examine participants' decisions and motivations to voluntarily access HIV testing and/or to accept a routine HIV test offer. Within a sub-set of interviews, a transactional discourse emerged in which the decision to test features an arrangement of 'giving and receiving'. Discourses related to notions of solidarity emphasize considerations of justice and positions testing as a 'public' act. Lastly, 'individualistic' discourses focused on individual-level considerations, with less concern for the broader public 'good'. These findings underscore how normative dimensions pertaining to men's decisions to test are dialectically interrelated with the broader social and structural influences on individual and collective health-related behaviour, thereby suggesting a need to advance an explicit empirical-normative research agenda related to population and public health intervention research.


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