Fairness and accountability for reasonableness. Do the views of priority setting decision makers differ across health systems and levels of decision making?
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Accountability for reasonableness is an ethical framework for fair priority setting process. This framework has been used to evaluate fairness in several contexts, and a few studies have evaluated its acceptability to decision makers. However, no studies have compared the acceptability of the four conditions of the framework to decision makers across health systems and levels of priority setting. This paper reports the elements of fairness described by 184 decision makers involved in priority setting at the macro-, meso- and micro-levels of priority setting in the Canadian (Ontario), Norwegian and Ugandan health care systems and compares them against the four conditions of 'Accountability for Reasonableness' and across levels of decision making, and health care systems. Our respondents identified 23 elements of fair priority setting. Most of these (17) were well aligned with the four conditions of Accountability for Reasonableness; six were not. Comparisons across health care system and levels of decision making revealed that four elements (transparency, participatory and among the criteria-need based and objective) were common to all and the rest were common to only the health care systems (but not at all levels), or only the levels of decision making (but not to all health are systems). Perceptions varied remarkably across levels of decision making. The overlap between the elements of fairness found in this study and the conditions of Accountability for Reasonableness demonstrates that the four conditions are recognizable and applicable across health care systems and levels of decision making. However, the framework should be used with flexibility to allow for identification of elements and relevant explicit criteria (such as those identified in this study) - that may not directly fit under any of the four conditions.
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