David R. Buchanan

David Buchanan


B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1974; M.P.H., University of California, Berkeley, 1979; Dr.PH., University of California, Berkeley, 1989

Area(s) of Specialization: 

public health ethics, community-based participatory research, international health, interpretive research, humanistic program design

Research Description: 

My research starts from the assumption that human beings have free will and exercise agency, in contrast to the predominant assumption in the field that behavior is determined by antecedent causal factors. The implications for research and practice in public health promotion are profound, shifting from a strict focus on identifying behavior change interventions to developing processes that treat people with dignity and respect and that strengthen their autonomy towards living the life they find most worthwhile.  My research thus blends empirical and normative research methods, recognizing that the values and ethical principles that give people direction and purpose cannot readily be reduced to forced-choice items on survey questionnaires.  I am seeking to develop a framework for conducting public health promotion that is modeled on the ideals of higher education, dispelling ignorance and prejudice and enabling people to gain greater clarity and self-direction.

Key Publications: 

Buchanan, David.  Promoting justice and autonomy in public policies to reduce the health consequences of obesity. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 25(4), December 2015.

Buchanan, David Ross. Ethics of Public Health. In Oxford Bibliographies in Public Health. Ed. David McQueen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Gubrium A, Barcelos C, Buchanan D, Gubrium, E.  “When nothing matters things just happen”: Young parenting women’s reflections on caring, health, and justice. International Quarterly of Community Health Education 34(2): 121-138, 2013.

Buchanan D.  Ethical standards to guide the development of obesity policies and programs. International Journal of Health Policy and Management 1(4):313-315, 2013.

Buchanan, David, and Miller FG. Justice in Research on Human Subjects. In Rosamond Rhodes, Anita Silvers and Peggy Battin (Eds.), Health Care and Social Justice, Oxford University Press, 2012.