The AMA Journal of Ethics invites original submissions for peer review consideration on the following themes that will be explored in 2024 and 2025:


May 2024: Antimicrobial Resistance

Microbes include bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi that constantly evolve. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR ) happens when microbes change, becoming harder to treat in individual human and nonhuman animals and plants with antibiotic, antiparasitic, antiviral, and antifungal agents. Resistant pathogens are more easily transmissible across human and nonhuman ecology. National and international burden of AMR has been assessed in terms of infection incidence, deaths, hospital length of stay, and location-specific costs of developing and applying specific pathogen–drug combinations to try to save lives and preserve food supplies. Routine and focused surveillance is key to understanding microbiological, individual, social, and ecological root causes, downstream effects, and sources of inequity in AMR. This theme issue canvasses neglected ethics, justice, and contextual features of AMR.

We invite manuscripts for this May 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that consider wide-ranging perspectives on AMR as a source of iatrogenic, zoonotic, and other harms and additional kindred topics of clinical, ethical, social, and cultural importance.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 June 2023.

June 2024: Antimicrobial Stewardship

Antimicrobial stewardship is a multisectoral field dedicated to coordinating responses to threats posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This issue considers the field’s membership, organization, methods, ethical foundations, and future. Overall, responding to AMR demands prioritization of stewardship as an ethical value that guides domestic and international agencies’ and programs’ efforts to preserve antimicrobial capacity, efficacy, and effectiveness. Measures of clinicians’ and organizations’ prescription practices and patients’ uses of antibiotic, antiparasitic, antiviral, and antifungal agents are empirical cornerstones of antimicrobial stewardship. Formulating, implementing, and evaluating stewardship improvement recommendations are also key from ethical, anthropological, social, and organizational perspectives.

We invite manuscripts for this June 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that consider antimicrobial stewardship successes and investigate ongoing challenges from wide-ranging perspectives.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 July 2023.

July 2024: Equity in Harm Reduction and Opioid Use Disorder Interventions

Despite severe punishments and high rates of inequitable incarceration, unprecedented numbers of opioid-related deaths persist in the United States. The US has implemented few policies that align needs of communities, individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD), and clinical evidence. Evidence-based harm reduction practices hold promise to help advance domestic approaches to thinking of OUD treatment as a human right, but successful implementation of harm reduction interventions rely heavily on care continuity and even perception management, both of which are still thwarted by a seemingly endless so-called “War on Drugs.” This theme issue follows our August 2020 issue Opioids and Public Health and specifically considers harm as a concept in need of careful, case-specific attention and reduction as an intervention or set of interventions that are part of a safety net to curb opioid-related morbidity and mortality.

We invite manuscripts for the July 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that consider ethically relevant features of harm reduction, substance use disorder intervention, and policy.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 August 2023.

August 2024: Standards in Medical-Legal Partnerships

Complex demands of patients’ socially, culturally, and politically situated health needs have given rise to what have become known as medical-legal partnerships (MLPs). An MLP is a model of US-based health and legal service provision that generally looks to offer combined, single-site interprofessional responses to patients whose health status and access to health services can be compromised by their need for legal help. Patients who are immigrants, were recently incarcerated, or lack reliable and safe shelter or employment, for example, can experience health vulnerabilities that call for legal expertise, perhaps in the form of advice, aid in petitioning a court or program, referral, representation in administrative proceedings, or advocacy. This theme issue investigates strategies by which clinicians and attorneys should work together to screen for and respond with care to legal determinants of patients’ health.

We invite manuscripts for the August 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that explore these and related topics. Also welcome are manuscripts that consider whether and to what extent it is ethically, clinically, or legally problematic for MLP interventions to lack standardization throughout the US. On one hand, MLPs flourish when they have regulatory flexibility to meet location-specific needs of patients and communities. On the other hand, in some contexts and for some patient populations, we ought to wonder whether and how MLPs have evolved to the point at which medical-legal interventions should have national standards, such as those considered by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, and oversight to ensure safe, reliable practice and service to patient-clients.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 September 2023.

September 2024: What Do Good Science and Ethics Require of Human-Centered Research Using Nonhuman Animals?

Nonhuman animals have long been and continue to be routinely used in biomedical and behavioral research to promote human health. When SARS-CoV2 infections triggered a race to develop and scale global access to vaccines in 2019, two key innovations happened to the supply chain of animals created, raised, and used for science: (1) experiments and trials regarded as essential were prioritized and (2) governments and researchers shortened vaccine production timelines. Clinical and public health urgency concentrated and acutely focused demand for live mammals—ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, nonhuman primates, pigs, and rats—in ways that also intensified demand for efficient protocol designs and streamlined methods of human vaccine research and development. Reasonable people can still disagree about when, why, and how nonhuman animals should be sacrificed for human health, but we now know that human health, specifically vaccine development, flourish even when we sanction fewer nonhuman animals’ cultivation and deaths for science. This theme issue investigates what this pandemic revelation means from clinical, ethical, legal, and policy standpoints for the future of human-centered research.

We invite manuscripts for this September 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that consider how we ought to think about the ethical, economic, translational, and clinical predictive value of nonhuman animal uses to promote human health. We seek wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary manuscripts that consider the roles and costs of speciesism in the enterprise of health care; imagine animal research substitutes that offer greater economic payoff and predictive power of research; identify strategies for better achieving our minimal obligations to streamline protocol design and eliminate excess nonhuman animal injury, illness, and death; investigate whether and to what extent the post-COVID-19 pandemic climate demands redefinition of key concepts, such as necessary animal research, unnecessary nonhuman animal suffering, or the assumed ethical imperative to prioritize human over nonhuman animal interests.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 October 2023.

October 2024: Sleep Stewardship

Sleep hygiene, causes of sleep disruption, and sleep disorder interventions are recent, important topics of health and cultural awareness. The better one’s sleep quality over the life span, the better one’s health status and health outcomes, so who has reliable access to quality sleep is not just a clinical matter, but one for ethics and justice. This theme issue’s focus is broader than sleep pathologies and investigates how sleep is perhaps best conceived as a communal, natural resource. We all need clean air and water, shelter, nutritionally dense food, and sleep. Of course, we sleep as individuals, but our common human interest in good sleep generates collective obligations to respond equitably to chronic health conditions that exacerbate poor sleep patterns, to support conditions for feeling safe, peaceful, and calm enough to rest, and to mitigate noise and light pollution that compromise our and our neighbors’ sleep environments.

We welcome wide-ranging manuscripts on conceiving sleep stewardship as a clinical, ethical, social, policy, and cultural priority. We invite manuscripts for the October 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® on the nature and scope of clinicians-citizens', professions’, health care organizations’, and all of our sleep stewardship responsibilities.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 November 2023.

November 2024: Peace in Health Care

Clinicians’ responses to bloodied, unresponsive patients have been ubiquitously dramatized in medical shows. In clinicians’ real responses to high-stakes stressful situations, however, we do well to be wary when chaos is untamed by their competence, precision teamwork, evidence-based care planning, and patient-centered management. Clinicians are taught to incorporate and routinize what they do together every day, over and over again: health care professionalism has always been and is a practice. While shows glamorize dramatic and emotional stakes of health care situations, skilled clinicians generally strive to control any variables they can, restore homeostasis, and promote wellness in the lives of ill, injured patients. As a culture, we might not benefit when health care organizations are misappropriated and misrepresented as sites of dramatic entertainment. Patients, their loved ones, and their clinicians need health care organizations to be places of peace. This theme issue investigates what it means to establish and maintain health care as an enterprise known less for drama or stress and more for healing and peace.

We invite manuscripts for the November 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that canvass possible meanings of peace in health care and consider approaches that efficiently and equitably support peace ecology and peacemaking in health care. Wide ranging explorations of peace as a human right and growing public interest in altered states of consciousness, sensory deprivation, stimuli reduction, and other practices that promote experiences of peace that might involve kindred moral emotional experiences (eg, calm, rest, forgiveness, comfort, compassion, feeling heard, or feeling a deep sense of security) are also welcome.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 20 December 2023.

December 2024: Evidence-Based Design in Health Care

Health care spaces and structures influence how efficiently and effectively health interventions work and for whom. Roles of clinical, common, and restricted areas in health care operations should be collectively and inclusively crafted to balance employee, patient, and visitor needs for safety, comfort, collegiality, and good outcomes. Evidence-based design has evolved to guide architecture, engineering, building construction, and service delivery. What is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt when we inhabit health care spaces is neither clinically, ethically, nor aesthetically neutral. Peace, calm, rest, and good care can facilitate healing. This theme issue considers evidence-based design ideas in health care that motivate this purpose.

We invite wide-ranging manuscripts for consideration in this December 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® on evidence-based design. For example, the following investigations are examples of welcome contributions: good versus ill design features of health care structures and spaces (eg, clean and uncluttered versus excessively noisy and illuminated), advocacy groups influence in design determinations (eg, Komenization or pinkification of breast imagining locales), patterns of privilege in health care design (eg, “biocontainment” units and “birthing suites”), roles played by design plans in states’ Certificate of Need processes, and health care structures and spaces as sets in which clinicians and staff are actors who accept or resist their roles in such set designs.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 January 2024.

January 2025: Exchanges Between Epidemiology and Clinical Practice

Epidemiological research guides delivery of patient care by informing and transforming clinical guidelines. Reciprocally, how clinicians document information from patients or their loved ones also determine the quality of data epidemiologists can use in research. Additionally, some patients’ health needs and some communities’ health interests are not well captured in observational studies and clinical trials when patient-subjects are lost-to-follow-up. Attrition of patient-subjects who are uninsured, underinsured, experience transportation or food insecurity, work multiple jobs, or live with complex chronic illnesses or disabilities, for example, creates gaps in epidemiological data capture that can generate clinical guidelines that do not apply well or completely to a full range of patients, and can exacerbate health equity among marginalized, vulnerable patient groups. This theme issue investigates clinical and ethical complexity in clinical foundations of epidemiological research processes and in epidemiological sources of clinical guidelines for the delivery of optimal care for all patients.

We invite manuscripts for the January 2025 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that help readers better consider and understand key intersections of epidemiology and health care practice We seek wide-ranging international and national perspectives about epidemiological practices that situate clinicians’ capacities to respond with care to diverse patients’ lived experiences.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 28 February 2024.

February 2025: Acute Pain Management in Non-Labor and Delivery OBGYN Procedures

Even non-labor and delivery (non-L&D) OBGYN procedures require patients’ bodies to be positioned in, arguably, one of the most vulnerable possible ways. Patients are physically, epistemically, and emotionally at the mercy of their clinicians, so clinicians’ characters and pain management strategies during such procedures could not be more worthy of ethical investigation. Communication and analgesia approaches are clinician-dependent and, thus, heavily reliant upon clinicians’ capacities to discern patients’ needs and to charitably—and as accurately as possible—interpret patients’ pain responses, and to generously construe what patients deserve. Expressions of gender identity, racial, ethnic, and age biases in OBGYN settings have a treacherous, violent history with long legacies and persistent influence on many patients’ experiences. This theme issue considers acute non-labor and delivery (non L&D) OBGYN pain specifically; when pain of patients undergoing these procedures is addressed inadequately or callously, patients are at risk.

We invite manuscripts considering wide ranging topics, including drivers of patients’ pain and pain management expectations; social media trends in how pain during intrauterine device placement or other procedures is discussed; how general tolerance of some clinicians’ inadequate management of non L&D OBGYN pain should be contextualized among broader obstetric and gynecological violence trends; how we should understand some clinicians’ poor communication about non L&D OBGYN procedures and pain; how we should navigate uncertainty about analgesia guidelines and interpret extant standards of care; and how we should consider ethical responsibility of clinicians to assess their practices and orientations to iatrogenically harmful features endemic to non L&D OBGYN care.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in the February 2025 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® issue must follow the Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 31 March 2024.

March 2025: Regret in the Moral Psychology of Surgical Professionalism

Regret has been construed as a kind of sorrow, due to purposeful or accidental action or inaction about phenomena such as “losses, transgressions, shortcoming, or mistakes.” Regret experiences are neglected in processes of professionalization among clinicians generally, and among surgeons specifically. Along a physician’s training path to becoming a surgeon, there are few, if any, formal or structured opportunities to reflect upon regret experiences and this is worth considering since, despite good training, best efforts, good decision-making, competent practice, and good intentions, some patients will suffer poor outcomes at the hands of a surgeon who might feel terrible about it. This theme issue suggests that robust appreciation of regret as a moral emotion and professional experience relies upon, among other things, investigating regret as one expression of a conscientious surgeon’s deep internalization of their capacity to harm. This theme issue also considers how we should regard regret and its kindred moral emotions—grief, remorse, shame, guilt—in surgical life, training, and practice.

We invite manuscripts for the March 2025 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® which consider moral experiences of regret and kindred moral emotions among clinicians.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted 30 April 2024.

June 2025: Embodiment in Art Practice

Explaining his use of a mechanical typewriter, the poet James Galvin says, “It’s partly tactile. I envy painters for having such a physical relationship with what they do.” Artists make marks with their bodies; in turn, art marks the body. This reciprocal marking sometimes demands response. Some artists’ historical relationships with physically toxic media, for example, demonstrate clear health implications that need attention, so a painter today might practice their art without using cadmium yellow. Other physical consequences of making art could include a screen printer’s routine rest to spare their shoulder repetitive stress injury or a book binder's material manipulation to protect their hands from knife cuts. Yet, for artists who revel in the physicality of their creative processes, art practice is a balm: a weaver meditates in repetition, a sculptor shapes a figure or a world, a performer feeds and is fed by live and asynchronous audiences’ collective energy. This issue considers how art practices influence embodiment experiences. Specifically, art practice can prompt changes to how we regard and accommodate patterns of inhabiting our bodies and our selves. Art practices prompt adaptation to our experiences of tension over time between what creative processes demand of artists and how they might promote healing among artists and their audiences. Finally, considering embodiment in art can help us cultivate insights we can apply to health care as an enterprise and practice.

To mark the 5th anniversary of the AMA Journal of Ethics' Art of Medicine internship program with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we invite art submissions to the June 2025 issue. Art works that explore embodiment as critical to artistic practices will be prioritized, especially those with promise to (1) broaden and deepen inquiry in health care ethics and health policy; (2) forge new insight into intersections among ethics, aesthetics, and health care; and (3) prompt innovation in how we draw upon and apply our humanistic impulses in health care. Submissions from artists in all educational and career stages in nearly any media are welcome. Thematic content may include but are not limited to movements an artist’s body repeats in their practice, mitigating bodily wear and tear to develop longevity of an art practice, art materials that have gone out of use due to toxicity, partitioning of creative space according to material use (eg, sprays) within artists’ studios or collectives, art practice as comfort, creative expression changes done to accommodate changes to an artist’s body, and body as creative inspiration.

Content submitted for review and consideration must comply with requirements listed on our Call for Art Work and be submitted by 30 July 2024.