The policy analysis of ‘values talk’: lessons from Canadian health reform
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Despite widespread recognition of the importance of values, decision makers and stakeholders in health policy appear to disagree fundamentally over what 'values' essentially are. Hidden dissent about the nature of values can confuse policy deliberations. This study investigates empirically the following two questions: (1) what sorts of entities do Canadian health reformers typically call 'values'? and; (2) how do Canadian health reformers use the idea of values in health reform rhetoric? We conducted a qualitative, interpretive analysis of 36 Canadian health reform documents published during the period 1990-1999. The values raised in Canadian health reform rhetoric vary widely not only in topic (e.g. health states, health services, equity, economic viability, etc.) but also in substance (e.g. physical entities, goals, principles, attitudes, etc.). We review the diversity of concepts underlying 'values talk' in health policy, and discuss implications for policy analysis and future research.
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