The Nature of procedural preferences for health care rationing decisions

Wailoo, Allan and Anand, Paul (2005). The Nature of procedural preferences for health care rationing decisions. Social Science & Medicine, 60(2) pp. 223–236.



Substantial debate on the appropriate foundations of economic evaluation in health-care has been conducted between welfarists and non-welfarists in the health economics literature. This has focussed on defining and measuring appropriate outcomes. However, there has been little discussion of the importance of procedures. This paper examines six dimensions of procedure in relation to health-care rationing which are drawn from existing literature and previous empirical investigation. A survey of the general public was used to test for preferences for each dimension of procedure. Results show that for each dimension the importance differed according to the level of decision-making (we tested decision-making at the level of the individual doctor, health authority and government). We identified three distinct clusters of respondents who can be broadly described as "proceduralists" (47%), "pluralists" (15%) and "anti-consequentialists" (38%). The paper concludes that consequentialism is insufficient to provide the conceptual framework that public decision-making in health requires, although this does not mean that consequences are unimportant.

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