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Bioethics and Lifestyle Management: The Theory and Praxis of Personal Responsibility

Rief, John (2013) Bioethics and Lifestyle Management: The Theory and Praxis of Personal Responsibility. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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As noted in previous scholarship, disagreements exist between various stakeholders in the effort to address obesity, especially in terms of its health consequences and its treatment. This thesis argues that bioethics and rhetoric may play a significant role in re-articulating and overcoming these disagreements. Bioethics, with its focus on the provider-patient relationship, has often been ignored as a potential site for the cultivation of ethical and effective therapeutic modalities for obesity given the overwhelming surge of work in public health and public policy. Rhetoric, with its focus on how communication and public discourse influence social, political, and even professional decisions, offers a robust methodological approach to dealing with the interplay between the larger public discourses that circulate around obesity and those that inhere in the moment of provider-patient communication. Thus, combining the two approaches of bioethics and rhetoric, this thesis argues that by going back to the provider-patient relationship and its communicative possibilities, many of the problems associated with population-wide management of the obesity problem may be addressed.
Accordingly, this thesis engages in this bioethical and rhetorical work in three phases. First, by engaging in an analytical review of the literature concerning the public conceptions of obesity and how these conceptions influence the chosen approaches to its management, this thesis draws on previous work to highlight the critical role that bioethics may play in cultivating a more effective and ethical approach to the obesity problem. Second, by directly challenging efforts to articulate responsibility as a matter of personal guilt, blame, or obligation, this thesis confronts a major problem residing at the heart of the public campaign to address the obesity problem: stigmatization. However, unlike most previous efforts, this thesis relies on a turn to bioethics for the needed corrective. Third and finally, this thesis articulates lifestyle change therapy as an ethical clinical praxis rooted in the effort to enhance the responsibility of providers and patients for the cultivation of health while side-stepping coercion, thus maintaining the roles of patient autonomy and physician beneficence needed to make our approach to the obesity problem ethical and effective simultaneously.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rief, Johnjjr21@pitt.eduJJR21
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairParker, Lisalisap@pitt.eduLISAP
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberWicclair, Markwicclair@pitt.eduWICCLAIR
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 April 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 17 April 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 158
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Bioethics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bieothics, Rhetoric, Obesity, Lifestyle Change, Responsiblity
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 16:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11


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