OBJECTIVES: Prioritisation in healthcare is an issue of growing importance due to scarcity of resources. The aims of this study were firstly to describe decision makers' experience of prioritisation and their views concerning willingness to pay and how to finance healthcare costs. An additional aim was to compare the views of politicians and physicians.
METHODS: The study was a cross-sectional study based on a questionnaire administered to 700 Swedish politicians and physicians. This was analysed using both quantitative and qualitative methods.
RESULTS: A majority of the decision makers (55%) suggested that increasing costs should be financed through higher taxation but more physicians than politicians thought that higher patient fees, private health insurance and a reduction in social expenditure were better alternatives. Prioritisation aroused anxiety; politicians were afraid of displeasing voters while physicians were afraid of making medically incorrect decisions.
CONCLUSIONS: This study do not answer the question about how to make prioritisation in health care but the result highlights the different ways that the decision makers view the subject and thereby elicit that publicly elected politicians and physicians perhaps not always work with the same goal ahead. There are needs for more research but also more media focus on the subject so the citizens will be aware and take part in the debate.
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