Code of Ethics

The Professional Gerontologists’ Code of Ethics sets forth the principles and ethical standards that underlie the responsibilities and conduct of professional gerontologists. These principles are to be used as guidelines when examining everyday professional activities. They constitute normative statements for gerontologists and provide guidance on issues that gerontologists may encounter in their professional work.

The Gerontologists’ Code of Ethics consists of an Introduction, a Preamble, five General Principles, and specific Ethical Standards. This Code is accompanied by the Vision and Mission of the National Association for Professional Gerontologists.

The Preamble and General Principles of the Code are goals to guide gerontologists toward the highest ideals of the profession of gerontology. The Preamble and General principles are not enforceable rules, but should be considered by gerontologists in arriving at an ethical course of action.

Membership in the National Association for Professional Gerontologists (NAPG) commits members to adhere to the Gerontologists’ Code of Ethics. Members are advised of this obligation upon acceptance of credentialing and that violations of the Code may lead to the imposition of sanctions.


This Code of Ethics articulates a common set of values upon which gerontologists build their professional and scientific work. The Code is intended to provide both the general principles and the rules to cover professional situations encountered by gerontologists. It has as its primary goal the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom gerontologists work. It is the individual responsibility of each gerontologist to aspire to the highest possible standards of conduct in research, teaching, practice, service and vocation.

The development of a dynamic set of ethical standards for a gerontologist’s work-related conduct requires a personal commitment to a lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by students, supervisors, supervisees, employers, employees, and colleagues; and to consult with others as needed concerning ethical problems. Each gerontologist supplements, but does not violate, the values and rules specified in the Code of Ethics in relation to personal values, culture and experience.


The following General Principles serve as a guide for gerontologists in determining ethical courses of action in various contexts. They exemplify the highest ideals of professional conduct.

Principle A: Professional Competence
Gerontologists strive to maintain the highest levels of competence in their work; they recognize the limitations of their multidisciplinary expertise; and they undertake only those tasks for which they are qualified by education, training, or experience. They recognize the need for continuing education in order to remain professionally competent; and they utilize the appropriate scientific, professional, technical, and administrative resources needed to ensure competence in their professional activities. They consult with other professionals whenever necessary for the benefit of their clients, colleagues, research participants, and students.
Principle B: Integrity
Gerontologists conduct themselves in an honest and fair manner, respectful of others in their professional activities in service, advocacy, practice, research, and teaching. Gerontologists do not knowingly act in ways that jeopardize either their own or others’ professional welfare. Gerontologists conduct their affairs in ways that inspire trust, confidence and mutual respect; they do not knowingly make statements that are false, misleading, or deceptive. Gerontologists always disclose possible, perceived and actual conflicts of interest in the performance of their professional responsibilities.
Principle C: Professional and Scientific Responsibility
Gerontologists adhere to the highest scientific and professional standards and accept responsibility for their work. Gerontologists understand that they form a community and will show respect for other gerontologists and colleagues even when they disagree on theoretical, methodological, or personal approaches to professional activities. Gerontologists value the continuing establishment of the public trust in the emerging and evolving profession of gerontology and are concerned about their ethical behavior and that of other gerontologists that might compromise that trust. In research and teaching gerontologists, adhere to accepted principles for the protection of human subjects in research. While endeavoring always to be collegial, gerontologists must never let the desire to be collegial outweigh their shared responsibility for ethical behavior, and the best interest of the client must always come first. When appropriate, they consult with colleagues to prevent or avoid unethical conduct.
Principle D: Respect for People's Rights, Dignity, and Diversity
Gerontologists respect the rights, dignity, and worth of all people. They strive to eliminate bias in their professional activities, and they do not tolerate any forms of discrimination based on age; gender; race; ethnicity; national origin; religion; sexual orientation; disability; health conditions; or marital, domestic, or parental status. They are sensitive to cultural, individual, and role differences in service, education, administration, research and study related to gerontology. In all of their work-related activities, gerontologists acknowledge the rights of others to hold values, attitudes, and opinions that differ from their own.
Principle E: Social and Advocacy Responsibilities
Gerontologists are aware of their professional and scientific responsibility to the communities and societies in which they live and work. They apply and make public their knowledge in order to contribute to the public good. When undertaking service they strive to advance the professionalism of gerontology and to serve the public good.