Code of Ethics

Health Education Code of Ethics


Health Education professionals are dedicated to excellence in the practice of promoting individual, family, group, organizational, school, community, public, and population health. Guided by common goals to improve the human condition, Health Education Specialists are responsible for upholding the integrity and ethics of the profession as they perform their work and face the daily challenges of making ethical decisions. Health Education Specialists value equity in society and embrace a multiplicity of approaches in their work to support the worth, dignity, potential, quality of life, and uniqueness of all people.

The below information is a condensed version of the 2020 Code of Ethics for the Health Education Profession.  Read the Code of Ethics Full Version here. Read the CNHEO press release here. 

Article I: Core Ethical Expectations

  1. Health Education Specialists display personal behaviors that represent the ethical conduct principles of honesty, autonomy, beneficence, respect, and justice. The Health Education Specialist should, under no circumstances, engage in derogatory language, violence, bigotry, racism, harassment, inappropriate sexual activities or communications in person or through the use of technology and other means.
  2. Health Education Specialists respect and support the rights of individuals and communities to make informed decisions about their health, as long as such decisions pose no risk to the health of others.
  3. Health Education Specialists are truthful about their qualifications and the qualifications of others whom they recommend. Health Education Specialists know their scope of practice and the limitations of their education, expertise, and experience in providing services consistent with their respective levels of professional competence, including certifications and licensures.
  4. Health Education Specialists are ethically bound to respect the privacy, confidentiality, and dignity of individuals and organizations. They respect the rights of others to hold diverse values, attitudes, and opinions. Health Education Specialists have a responsibility to engage in supportive relationships that are free of exploitation in all professional settings (e.g.: with clients, patients, community members, students, supervisees, employees, and research participants.)
  5. Health Education Specialists openly communicate to colleagues, employers, and professional organizations when they suspect unethical practices that violate the profession's Code of Ethics.
  6. Health Education Specialists are conscious of and responsive to social, racial, faith-based, and cultural diversity when assessing needs and assets, planning, and implementing programs, conducting evaluations, and engaging in research to protect individuals, groups, society, and the environment from harm.
  7. Health Education Specialists should disclose conflicts of interest in professional practice, research, evaluation, and the dissemination process.

Article II: Ethical Practice Expectations.

  • Section I. Responsibility to the Public. Health Education Specialists are responsible for educating, promoting, maintaining, and improving the health of individuals, families, groups, and communities. When a conflict of issue arises among individuals, groups, organizations, agencies, or institutions, Health Education Specialists must consider all issues and give priority to those that promote the health and well-being of individuals and the public, while respecting both the principles of individual autonomy, human rights, and equity as long as such decisions pose no risk to the health of others.
  • Section II. Responsibility to the Profession.  Health Education Specialists are responsible for their professional behavior, the reputation of their profession, promotion of certification for those in the profession, and promotion of ethical conduct among their colleagues.
  • Section III. Responsibility to Employers.  Health Education Specialists are responsible for their professional behavior in the workplace and for promoting ethical conduct among their colleagues and employers.
  • Section IV. Responsibility in the delivery of Health Education/Promotion.  Health Education Specialists deliver evidence informed practices with integrity. They respect the rights, dignity, confidentiality, inclusivity, and worth of all people by using strategies and methods tailored to the needs of diverse populations and communities.
  • Section V. Responsibility in Research and Evaluation.  Through research and evaluation activities, Health Education Specialists contribute to the health of populations and the profession. When planning and conducting research or evaluation, Health Education Specialists abide by federal, state, and tribal laws and regulations, organizational and institutional policies, and professional standards and ethics.
  • Section VI. Responsibility in professional preparation and continuing education.  Those involved in the professional preparation and training of Health Education students and continuing education for Health Education Specialists, are obligated to provide a quality education that meets professional standards and benefits the individual, the profession, and the public.


Code of Ethics for the Health Education Profession®. (2020). Coalition for National Health Education Organizations (CNHEO). [Document]. http://cnheo.org/ethics-of-the-profession.html  This Code was updated from a Task Force in 2011 and adopted by the CNHEO in February 2020.

Read the Code of Ethics Full Version here.

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