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Green bioethics, patient autonomy and informed consent in healthcare
  1. David B Resnik1,
  2. Jonathan Pugh2
  1. 1 Office of the Deputy Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David B Resnik, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, North Carolina, USA; resnikd{at}


Green bioethics is an area of research and scholarship that examines the impact of healthcare practices and policies on the environment and emphasises environmental values, such as ecological sustainability and stewardship. Some green bioethicists have argued that healthcare providers should inform patients about the environmental impacts of treatments and advocate for options that minimise adverse impacts. While disclosure of information pertaining to the environmental impacts of treatments could facilitate autonomous decision-making and strengthen the patient–provider relationship in situations where patients have clearly expressed environmental concerns, it may have the opposite effect in other situations if makes patients feel like they are being judged or manipulated. We argue, therefore, that there is not a generalisable duty to disclose environmental impact information to all patients during the consent process. Providers who practice green bioethics should focus on advocating for system-level changes in healthcare financing, organisation and delivery and use discretion when bringing up environmental concerns in their encounters with patients.

  • Informed Consent
  • Ethics- Medical
  • Environment
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Politics

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  • Contributors Both authors conceived of the idea and arguments in this paper and drafted the manuscript. Both authors take full responsiblity for the work.

  • Funding This study was funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (ZIAES102646-10). It does not represent the views of the NIEHS, NIH, or US government,

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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