Does deliberation make a difference? Results from a citizens panel study of health goals priority setting
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How to involve the public in setting health and health care priorities is a constant challenge for health system decisions. Policy maker interest in involving the public in increasingly complex and value-laden priority setting processes has led to the use of deliberative public involvement methods designed to promote discussion and debate among participants with the objective of obtaining more informed and consensual views. These methods have not been evaluated rigorously using controlled designs with pre- and post-test measurements. We examined, using a controlled design, the effects of introducing different opportunities for deliberation into a process for obtaining public input into a community health goals priority setting process. Our findings indicate that deliberation does make a difference to participant views. As more deliberation is introduced, participant views may be more amenable to change. Deliberation also offers the potential for views to become more rather than less entrenched. While we are beginning to understand the difference deliberation makes to participant views, we are still at an early stage in understanding the process through which these differences come about and what difference deliberation makes to broader outcomes such as civic competence, civic engagement and health policy decisions.
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