Accounting for reasonableness: Exploring the personal internal framework affecting decisions about cancer drug funding
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OBJECTIVES: Drug decision-makers are involved in developing and implementing policy, procedure and processes to support health resource allocation regarding drug treatment formularies. A variety of approaches to decision-making, including formal decision-making frameworks, have been developed to support transparent and fair priority setting. Recently, a decision tool, 'The 6-STEPPPs Tool', was developed to assist in making decisions about new cancer drugs within the public health care system. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study, utilizing focus groups and participant observation, in order to investigate the internal frameworks that supported and challenged individual participants as they applied this decision tool within a multi-stakeholder decision process. RESULTS: We discovered that health care resource allocation engaged not only the minds of decision-makers but profoundly called on the often conflicting values of the heart. CONCLUSIONS: Objective decision-making frameworks for new drug therapies need to consider the subjective internal frameworks of decision-makers that affect decisions. Understanding the very human, internal turmoil experienced by individuals involved in health care resource allocation, sheds additional insight into how to account for reasonableness and how to better support difficult decisions through transparent, values-based resource allocation policy, procedures and processes.
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