The views of physicians and politicians concerning age-related prioritisation in healthcare.

Elisabet Werntoft, Anna-Karin Edberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to describe the view of age-related prioritisation in health care among physicians and healthcare politicians and to compare their views regarding gender and age.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: Swedish physicians (n=390) and politicians (n=310), mean age 52 years, answered an electronic questionnaire concerning age-related priority setting in healthcare. The questionnaire had fixed response alternatives with possibility of adding comments.

FINDINGS: A majority of the participants thought that age should not influence prioritisation, although more physicians than politicians thought that younger patients should be prioritised. There were also significant differences concerning their views on lifestyle-related diseases and on who should make decisions concerning both vertical and horizontal prioritisation. The comments indicated that the politicians referred to ethical principles as a basis for their standpoints while the physicians often referred to the importance of biological rather than chronological age.

RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Web-based surveys as a method has its limitations as biased samples and biased returns could cause major problems, such as limited control over the drop-outs. The sample in this study was, however, judged to be representative.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: The results indicate that supplementary guiding principles concerning prioritisation in healthcare are needed in order to facilitate decision-making concerning resource allocation on a local level.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This paper adds important knowledge about decision makers' views on age-related priorities in healthcare, thus contributing to scientific base for prioritisation in healthcare and the ongoing debate in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Organization & Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy (30301)


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