Nursing care in times of epidemics and pandemics – historical and ethical issues

ENHE 4/2022: Nursing care in times of epidemics and pandemics – historical and ethical issues

European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics (Prof. Dr. Karen Nolte & Prof. Dr. Susanne Kreutzer)
Prof. Dr. Karen Nolte & Prof. Dr. Susanne Kreutzer
University of Heidelberg
Karen Nolte, Institut für Geschichte und Ethik der Medizin, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

The COVID 19 pandemic is a challenge of historical significance. For the first time since the 1950s and 1960s, the persuasion of being an immunized society was shaken. Diseases and pandemics were long portrayed in public history as historical events that modern scientific medicine was able to happily overcome thanks to the invention of antibiotics and vaccination programmes.

ENHE 4/2022: Nursing care in times of epidemics and pandemics – historical and ethical issues

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed the perspective on the history of epidemics; currently the question arises how we can learn from past pandemics today. At the same time, the recent discussion shows that in the context of pandemics, ethical challenges to the health care system – such as questions of distributive justice – are becoming particularly acute. Last but not least, against the background of the COVID 19 crisis, society is becoming increasingly aware of the crucial importance of nurses in the health care system.

The special issue aims on the one hand to make nurses visible as actors in the history of pandemics in the various European countries, and on the other hand to discuss ethical challenges for nurses in both historical and current contexts.
Possible historical topics are:

- Care during the cholera epidemics in the 19th century
- Role of nurses and nursing practices during the influenza pandemics of 1889–1895 ("Russian Flu"); 1918–1920 ("Spanish Flu"), 1957 ("Asian Flu") and 1968–1970 ("Hong Kong Flu")
- Care of endemically occurring infectious diseases: tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, typhoid, dysentery
- Dealing with sexually transmitted diseases in nursing care: syphilis, HIV and AIDS, etc.
- Role of nurses in vaccination programmes
- Hygiene knowledge as nursing knowledge

Possible ethical topics could refer to the current ethical challenges for nurses in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic, but could also address the dealing with other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS, syphilis:

- Triage and intensive nursing care
- Protection against infection and restrictions on freedom
- Scarcity and distribution of resources
- "Missed nursing care"
- Moral distress
- Dealing with stigmatised diseases
- Nursing care of older people and people in vulnerable life situations in a pandemic: the health system response

The aim of the special issue is to bring historical and ethical research on nursing in times of epidemics and pandemics into dialogue with each other.
Please note the following remarks on the concept of the European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics:

The journal creates a dialogue between the history and the ethics of nursing while providing new impulses for advancing the subfields of the history as well as the ethics of nursing. Historians are asked to include the ethical dimension of the topic into their research project; researchers interested in ethics are requested to reflect on the historical dimensions of their projects. This does not mean, however, that articles on ethics should be preceded by a historical overview in the style of a manual. Rather the latest developments and socio-political debates that have led to the current issues in the ethics of nursing should be put in their historical context and be used in the analysis. Likewise papers on the history of nursing should address ethical questions within the historical context or refer to current issues in the ethics of nursing. The journal publishes research both on European History and the history of the reciprocal relationships and entanglements of European and non-European societies.
The journal only publishes original contributions. The authors agree when submitting their script that their text has not already been submitted or published elsewhere.

Please submit your abstract (max 500 words) in English and separately a short CV by November 30th 2020 to Prof. Dr. Susanne Kreutzer: and Prof. Dr. Karen Nolte:


Prof. Dr. Susanne Kreutzer: and Prof. Dr. Karen Nolte:
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