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Ethics, Law, Professionalism, and Policy in Health Sciences: References - E-Books

Why Use Comprehensive Textbooks As A Starting Point?

Textbooks usually offer a broad, synthesized overview and background for understanding topics and contexts. Comprehensive textbooks will often present a multi-faceted perspective, including dimensions of problems, which may be unfamiliar to their readers. These resources provide  background for readers that enables their appreciation of the scope, complexity, and interlinking facets of topics.  Textbooks are considered tertiary information sources since they aim to review and synthesize the "state of the art" and/or "state of the science" related to a topic in a given timeframe. Textbooks or tertiary knowledge resources utilize primary (original) research and secondary research (sub-topically limited integrative reviews of primary research) to build a panoramic view of the state of the evidence in a topic or knowledge domain, including a large range of sub-topics. These sub-topics may include special population variations or circumstances as well as interprofessional and interdisciplinary issues. 

Understanding the contexts and specific circumstances of patients or communities in ethical cases or policy formulations is vital to identifying the kinds of questions and information required to form an opinion, identify relevant norms and values, embrace complex and competing considerations (i.e., more than one ethical or policy principle is involved), recognize diverse stakeholders, or appraise guidelines for specific applicability. Textbooks often reflect the current professional practices, social norms and professional values in a given (historical or current) timeframe as well as areas of controversy or branching opinion. They may include references to seminal articles, precedent setting cases, authoritative organizations, leading researchers or theorists, frameworks and models, and much more. They help you orient to a topic and discover the disciplinary jargon or terms of art within a domain of practice or research. There terms can be used in further literature searching for original (primary) research or secondary reviews considering topical facets.      

Most of the textbooks considering a specific topic in healthcare contain sections addressing ethics or policies. 

Recommended E-books by Professor Swirsky


The ACCESS MEDICINE COLLECTION contains many e-Books spanning diverse topics in Ethics, which pertain to all the professions working in healthcare. Here is a link to this this collection of over 1200 textbooks addressing facets of Ethics.

This collection can be searched by entering Ethics in the search box. NARROW BY TOPIC and a NARROW BY TEXTBOOK filters allow you to target topics of special interest. The title filter helps you hone by the profession or discipline - for example GENOMICS and PROFESSIONALISM appear in titles but are not on the topics listing. 

Below are a few titles to give a sense of the depth of this collection. 


EXAMPLE:  This illustrates a CATALOG search for ELECTRONIC BOOKS in the SUBJECTS of NURSING and ETHICS with the KEYWORD LAW, published since 2000 in English. The search for nursing, ethics, and law as 3 subjects was not productive; thus, law was used as a keyword.  Use the ADVANCED SEARCH option once you link to the catalog search page at

ALL of the library's holdings should be available via the catalog, including books and journals. You can conduct the search above and look for journals too by checking the appropriate boxes in the ADVANCED SEARCH page. Be sure to select the timeframe and format (print, online).


Over 1700 books were retrieved by a search for ETHICS CONSENT. When additional filters were added for the SUBJECT / CATEGORY  - LEGAL ISSUES - the number of results reduced to 1: "Nurses Legal Handbook"



Consider using the SUBJECT fields to tightly target your search. Often you can use * (an asterisk or other symbol) to capture wildcard variations and plurals.  For example, ethic* can be used to search the ProQuest Ebook Central database for ethical, ethic, or ethics. Here is an example of an ADVANCED SEARCH. 


This illustrates a search of the NLM Bookshelf for books that speak to "medical futility" and "nursing homes". 

Note, this search uses an ADVANCED SEARCH page filter to retrieve legal cases.