Health Care Analysis 9 (1):77-99 (2001)

The Royal Dutch Medical Association recently completed a researchproject aimed at investigating how guidelines for `appropriatemedical care' should be construed. The project took as a startingpoint that explicit attention should be given to ethical andpolitical considerations in addition to data about costs andeffectiveness. In the project, two research groups set out todesign guidelines and cost-effectiveness analyses for twocircumscribed medical areas. Our third group was responsible for the normativeanalysis. We undertook an explorative, qualitative pilot study ofthe normative considerations that played a role in constructingthe guidelines and CEAs, and simultaneously interviewedspecialists about the normative considerations that guided theirdiagnostic and treatment decisions. Explicating normativeconsiderations, we argue, is important democratically: the issuesat stake should not be left to decision analysts and guidelinedevelopers to decide. Moreover, it is a necessary condition for asuccessful implementation of such tools: those who draw uponthese tools will only accept them when they can recognizethemselves in the considerations implied. Empirical normativeanalysis, we argue, is a crucial tool in developing guidelinesfor appropriate medical care.
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DOI 10.1023/a:1011307112091
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