Collaborative Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates


In 2021, three leading professional societies representing patient and health care advocacy, HealthAdvocateX, NAHAC, and PACB, came together to form the Health Advocacy Collaborative Ethics Task Force (HACE). The purpose of their first-ever collaborative project was to review and update the Code of Ethics to align with the current times.

While it is normal practice for professional organizations to review and update relevant standards and codes on a regular basis, the past few years have introduced new pressures on organizations to ensure their ethics policy is a living document. The pandemic, advancing DEI initiatives, media information/disinformation, and technology disruptions to name a few, point to the dynamic changes affecting our world. Significant disruptions like these prompted the formation of the HACE task force.

Educational institutions and employers often fall short in providing training and resources to support ethical professional conduct[1]. As an emerging professional practice, patient and health care advocacy professional societies must fill that void. In fact, guiding members through professional ethics is a central responsibility for professional societies.

In theory, ethical decision-making should be the standard of behavior and not need to be formally taught. In practice, however, ethical misconduct occurs frequently, and as technology advances, the opportunities for unethical behavior increase each year. A code of ethics clarifies roles and responsibilities within a profession and provides guidance to the professional for addressing common ethical questions. Ethics involves making value-laden choices. As such the Collaborative Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates outlines the ethical principles to aid in the advocates’ execution of their duties as members of the profession.

Advocates, in particular, come from very diverse backgrounds and may be guided by several codes of ethics and standards of practice that relate to their respective industries, licensures, certifications, and employer relationships. These codes may be complementary or contradictory, requiring the advocate to exercise judgment about the framework that applies to a specific ethical question or situation.


Important note to Board Certified Patient Exam Candidates

Candidates for the Board Certified Patient Advocate certification exam should consult and understand the content in both the original set of Ethical standards (2019) as well as the more recently released Collaborative Code of Ethics (2022). The exam blueprint is weighted as follows, based on importance and frequency. The Collaborative Ethics (2022) builds on the original foundational document (2019) and brings in more recent ethical considerations such as technology safeguards, health proxy, and more clarification around diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Domain 1Scope of Practice and Transparency12%
Domain 2Empowerment, Autonomy, Rights and Equity18%
Domain 3Communication and Interpersonal Relationships19%
Domain 4Healthcare Access, Finance and Management14%
Domain 5Medical Knowledge and the Healthcare System10%
Domain 6Professionalism, Professional Development and Practice5%
Domain 7Ethical, Legal and Practice Standards22%



Download the Codes