In all industrial countries publicly funded health care systems are confronted with budget constraints. Therefore, priority setting in resource allocation seems inevitable. This paper examines whether personal characteristics could be taken into consideration when allocating health services in Germany, and whether attitudes towards prioritizing health care vary among individuals with different levels of education. Using a conjoint analysis approach, hypothetical patients described in terms of ‘lifestyle’, ‘age’, ‘severity of illness’, ‘type of illness’, ‘improvement in health’, and ‘treatment costs’ were constructed, and the importance weights for these personal characteristics were elicited from 120 members of the general public. Participants were selected according to a sampling guide including educational background, age, chronic illness and gender. Results are reported for groups with different levels of education (low, middle, high) only. The findings show that the patients’ age is the most important criterion for the allocation of health care resources, followed by ‘severity of illness’ and ‘improvement in health’. Preferences vary among participants with different educational backgrounds, which refer to different attitudes towards distributive justice and might represent different socialization experiences.
prioritizing; health behavior; conjoint analysis; distributive justice; distributive preferences; public attitudes; Germany; socialization theory
OBJECTIVE: To explore the arguments underlying the choices of patients, the public, general practitioners, specialists, and health insurers regarding priorities in health care. DESIGN: A qualitative analysis of data gathered in a series of panels. Members were asked to economise on the publicly funded healthcare budget, exemplified by 10 services. RESULTS: From a medical point of view, both panels of healthcare professionals thought most services were necessary. The general practitioners tried to achieve the budget cuts by limiting access to services to those most in need of them or those who cannot afford to pay for them. The specialists emphasised the possibilities of reducing costs by increasing the efficiency within services and preventing inappropriate utilisation. The patients mainly economised by limiting universal access to preventive and acute services. The "public" panels excluded services that are relatively inexpensive for individual patients. Moreover, they emphasised the individual's own responsibility for health behaviour and the costs of health care, resulting in the choice for copayments. The health insurers emphasised the importance of including services that relate to a risk only, as well as feasibility aspects. CONCLUSIONS: There were substantial differences in the way the different groups approached the issue of what should be included in the basic package. Healthcare professionals seem to be most aware of the importance of maintaining equal access for everyone in need of health care.
Health disparities are, to a large extent, the result of socio-economic factors that cannot be entirely mitigated through the health care system. While an array of social services are thought to be necessary to address the social determinants of health, budget constraints, particularly in difficult economic times, limit the availability of such services. It is therefore necessary to prioritize interventions through some fair process. While it might be appropriate to engage in public deliberation to set priorities, doing so requires that the public accept such a deliberative process and appreciate the social determinants of health. We therefore analyzed the results of a study in which groups deliberated to prioritize socio-economic interventions to examine whether these two requirements can possibly be met and to explore the basis for their priorities. A total of 431 residents of Washington, D.C. with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty threshold participated in 43 groups to engage in a hypothetical exercise to prioritize interventions designed to ameliorate the social determinants of health within the constraints of a limited budget. Findings from pre- and post-exercise questionnaires demonstrate that the priority setting exercise was perceived as a fair deliberative process, and that following the deliberation, participants became more likely to agree that a broad number of determinants contribute to their health. Qualitative analysis of the group discussions indicate that participants prioritized interventions that would provide for basic necessities and improve community conditions, while at the same time addressing more macro-structural factors such as homelessness and unemployment. We conclude that engaging small groups in deliberation about ways to address the social determinants of health can both change participant attitudes and yield informed priorities that might guide public policy aimed at most affordably reducing health disparities.
USA; public participation; interventions; health priorities; health status disparities; public assistance; poverty; resource allocation
OBJECTIVE--To elicit the views of a large nationally representative sample of adults on priorities for health services. DESIGN--An interview survey based on a random sample of people aged 16 and over in Great Britain taken by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. SUBJECTS--The response rate to the survey was 75%, and the total number of adults interviewed was 2005. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--A priority ranking exercise of health services supplemented with attitude questions about priorities, who should set priorities, and budget allocation. RESULTS--The results of the main priority ranking exercise of 12 health services showed that the highest priority (rank 1) was accorded to "treatments for children with life threatening illness," the next highest priority (rank 2) was accorded to "special care and pain relief for people who are dying." The lowest priorities (11 and 12) were given to "treatment for infertility" and "treatment for people aged 75 and over with life threatening illness." Most respondents thought that surveys like this one should be used in the planning of health services. CONCLUSIONS--The public prioritise treatments specifically for younger rather than older people. There is some public support for people with self inflicted conditions (for example, through tobacco smoking) receiving lower priority for care, which raises ethical issues.
The aim of this study is to develop, apply and evaluate an economics-based framework to assist commissioners in their management of finite resources for local dental services. In April 2006, Primary Care Trusts in England were charged with managing finite dental budgets for the first time, yet several independent reports have since criticised the variability in commissioning skills within these organisations. The study will explore the views of stakeholders (dentists, patients and commissioners) regarding priority setting and the criteria used for decision-making and resource allocation. Two inter-related case studies will explore the dental commissioning and resource allocation processes through the application of a pragmatic economics-based framework known as Programme Budgeting and Marginal Analysis.
The study will adopt an action research approach. Qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, field notes and document analysis will record the views of participants and their involvement in the research process. The first case study will be based within a Primary Care Trust where mixed methods will record the views of dentists, patients and dental commissioners on issues, priorities and processes associated with managing local dental services. A Programme Budgeting and Marginal Analysis framework will be applied to determine the potential value of economic principles to the decision-making process. A further case study will be conducted in a secondary care dental teaching hospital using the same approach. Qualitative data will be analysed using thematic analysis and managed using a framework approach.
The recent announcement by government regarding the proposed abolition of Primary Care Trusts may pose challenges for the research team regarding their engagement with the research study. However, whichever commissioning organisations are responsible for resource allocation for dental services in the future; resource scarcity is highly likely to remain an issue. Wider understanding of the complexities of priority setting and resource allocation at local levels are important considerations in the development of dental commissioning processes, national oral health policy and the future new dental contract which is expected to be implemented in April 2014.
Although the German health care system has budget constraints similar to many other countries worldwide, a discussion on prioritization has not gained the attention of the public yet. To probe the acceptance of priority setting in medicine, a quantitative survey representative for the German public (n = 2031) was conducted. Here we focus on the results for age, a highly disputed criterion for prioritizing medical services. This criterion was investigated using different types of questionnaire items, from abstract age-related questions to health care scenarios, and discrete choice settings, all performed within the same sample. Several explanatory variables were included to account for differences in preference; in particular, interviewee's own age but also his or her sex, socioeconomic status, and health status. There is little evidence that the German public accepts age as a criterion to prioritize health care services.
Despite the 1991 reforms of the health system in Zambia, mental health is still given low priority. This is evident from the fragmented manner in which mental health services are provided in the country and the limited budget allocations, with mental health services receiving 0.4% of the total health budget. Most of the mental health services provided are curative in nature and based in tertiary health institutions. At primary health care level, there is either absence of, or fragmented health services.
The aim of this paper was to explore health providers' views about mental health integration into primary health care.
A mixed methods, structured survey was conducted of 111 health service providers in primary health care centres, drawn from one urban setting (Lusaka) and one rural setting (Mumbwa).
There is strong support for integrating mental health into primary health care from care providers, as a way of facilitating early detection and intervention for mental health problems. Participants believed that this would contribute to the reduction of stigma and the promotion of human rights for people with mental health problems. However, health providers felt they require basic training in order to enhance their knowledge and skills in providing health care to people with mental health problems.
It is recommended that health care providers should be provided with basic training in mental health in order to enhance their knowledge and skills to enable them provide mental health care to patients seeking help at primary health care level.
Integrating mental health services into primary health care is critical to improving and promoting the mental health of the population in Zambia.
OBJECTIVES--To explore the assumptions underlying consumers' responses to questions of resource priorities in the NHS. DESIGN--Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with a heterogeneous sample of 16 patients drawn from a general practice. RESULTS--Interviewees were not persuaded that they had a legitimate role to play in the prioritisation of services. They supported the principle of equity and were reluctant to use their own personal needs as a basis for resource allocation; instead they argued from what they perceived to be the needs of others. CONCLUSIONS--Paradoxically, surveys of consumers' views on health care priorities probably do not elicit the personal ideas of respondents but tap into a more general ideological position closer to an earlier collectivist notion of health care.
Priority setting, also known as rationing or resource allocation, occurs at all levels of every health care system. Daniels and Sabin have proposed a framework for priority setting in health care institutions called 'accountability for reasonableness', which links priority setting to theories of democratic deliberation. Fairness is a key goal of priority setting. According to 'accountability for reasonableness', health care institutions engaged in priority setting have a claim to fairness if they satisfy four conditions of relevance, publicity, appeals/revision, and enforcement. This is the first study which has surveyed the views of hospital decision makers throughout an entire health system about the fairness of priority setting in their institutions. The purpose of this study is to elicit hospital decision-makers' self-report of the fairness of priority setting in their hospitals using an explicit conceptual framework, 'accountability for reasonableness'.
160 Ontario hospital Chief Executive Officers, or their designates, were asked to complete a survey questionnaire concerning priority setting in their publicly funded institutions. Eight-six Ontario hospitals completed this survey, for a response rate of 54%. Six close-ended rating scale questions (e.g. Overall, how fair is priority setting at your hospital?), and 3 open-ended questions (e.g. What do you see as the goal(s) of priority setting in your hospital?) were used.
Overall, 60.7% of respondents indicated their hospitals' priority setting was fair. With respect to the 'accountability for reasonableness' conditions, respondents indicated their hospitals performed best for the relevance (75.0%) condition, followed by appeals/revision (56.6%), publicity (56.0%), and enforcement (39.5%).
For the first time hospital Chief Executive Officers within an entire health system were surveyed about the fairness of priority setting practices in their institutions using the conceptual framework 'accountability for reasonableness'. Although many hospital CEOs felt that their priority setting was fair, ample room for improvement was noted, especially for the enforcement condition.
The Swedish government recently published a report on priorities in health care. It was written by a cross party group of politicians and drew extensively on the views of the public, health professionals, experience of earlier local exercises in priority setting, and research based evidence. It laid down an ethical framework for approaching issues of health care rationing. Underpinning the framework are the principles of human dignity, need and solidarity, and cost efficiency. The Swedish approach thus contrasts with the British experience of many local initiatives but an absence of national political guidance. The absence of political consensus on many aspects of social policy in the United Kingdom is a major obstacle to developing an agreed ethical framework within which decision makers in the National Health Service can work.
This paper compares and contrasts three different substantive (as opposed to procedural) principles of justice for making health care priority-setting or "rationing" decisions: need principles, maximising principles and egalitarian principles. The principles are compared by tracing out their implications for a hypothetical rationing decision involving four identified patients. This decision has been the subject of an empirical study of public opinion based on small-group discussions, which found that the public seem to support a pluralistic combination of all three kinds of rationing principle. In conclusion, it is suggested that there is room for further work by philosophers and others on the development of a coherent and pluralistic theory of health care rationing which accords with public opinions.
Key Words: Health care • rationing • medical ethics • justice • need
Given the size of the HIV epidemic in South Africa and other developing countries, scaling up antiretroviral treatment (ART) represents one of the key public health challenges of the next decade. Appropriate priority setting and budgeting can be assisted by economic data on the costs and cost-effectiveness of ART. The objectives of this research were therefore to estimate HIV healthcare utilisation, the unit costs of HIV services and the cost per life year (LY) and quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained of HIV treatment interventions from a provider's perspective.
Data on service utilisation, outcomes and costs were collected in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Utilisation of a full range of HIV healthcare services was estimated from 1,729 patients in the Khayelitsha cohort (1,146 No-ART patient-years, 2,229 ART patient-years) using a before and after study design. Full economic costs of HIV-related services were calculated and were complemented by appropriate secondary data. ART effects (deaths, therapy discontinuation and switching to second-line) were from the same 1,729 patients followed for a maximum of 4 years on ART. No-ART outcomes were estimated from a local natural history cohort. Health-related quality of life was assessed on a sub-sample of 95 patients. Markov modelling was used to calculate lifetime costs, LYs and QALYs and uncertainty was assessed through probabilistic sensitivity analysis on all utilisation and outcome variables. An alternative scenario was constructed to enhance generalizability.
Discounted lifetime costs for No-ART and ART were US$2,743 and US$9,435 over 2 and 8 QALYs respectively. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio through the use of ART versus No-ART was US$1,102 (95% CI 1,043-1,210) per QALY and US$984 (95% CI 913-1,078) per life year gained. In an alternative scenario where adjustments were made across cost, outcome and utilisation parameters, costs and outcomes were lower, but the ICER was similar.
Decisions to scale-up ART across sub-Saharan Africa have been made in the absence of incremental lifetime cost and cost-effectiveness data which seriously limits attempts to secure funds at the global level for HIV treatment or to set priorities at the country level. This article presents baseline cost-effectiveness data from one of the longest running public healthcare antiretroviral treatment programmes in Africa that could assist in enhancing efficient resource allocation and equitable access to HIV treatment.
Problematic waiting lists in public health care threaten the equity and timeliness of care provision in several countries. This study assesses different stakeholders' views on the acceptability of waiting lists in health care, their preferences for priority care of patients, and their judgements on acceptable waiting times for surgical patients.
A questionnaire survey was conducted among 257 former patients (82 with varicose veins, 86 with inguinal hernia, and 89 with gallstones), 101 surgeons, 95 occupational physicians, and 65 GPs. Judgements on acceptable waiting times were assessed using vignettes of patients with varicose veins, inguinal hernia, and gallstones.
Participants endorsed the prioritisation of patients based on clinical need, but not on ability to benefit. The groups had significantly different opinions (p < 0.05) on the use of non-clinical priority criteria and on the need for uniformity in the prioritisation process.
Acceptable waiting times ranged between 2 and 25 weeks depending on the type of disorder (p < 0.001) and the severity of physical and psychosocial problems of patients (p < 0.001). Judgements were similar between the survey groups (p = 0.3) but responses varied considerably within each group depending on the individual's attitude towards waiting lists in health care (p < 0.001).
The explicit prioritisation of patients seems an accepted means for reducing the overall burden from waiting lists. The disagreement about appropriate prioritisation criteria and the need for uniformity, however, raises concern about equity when implementing prioritisation in daily practice.
Single factor waiting time thresholds seem insufficient for securing timely care provision in the presence of long waiting lists as they do not account for the different consequences of waiting between patients.
A key mandate of Canadian regional health authorities is to set priorities and allocate resources within a limited funding envelope. The objective in this study was to determine how resources within a surgical program in a Canadian rural hospital might be reallocated to better meet the needs of the local community.
Early in 2001, at the Canmore General Hospital, Canmore, Alta., an expert-panel working group, consisting of a community health service leader, operating-room nurse clinician, acute care head nurse and a general surgeon, assisted by a research assistant and 2 health economists carried out a program budgeting and marginal analysis project to assess multiple data inputs into the decision-making process and to develop recommendations for service expansion and resource release. They considered the cost and benefits of altering the mix of resources used, based on Headwaters Health Authority activity and financial data, and local expert opinion.
The primary recommendation was to implement an additional surgery day per week (38 days of major surgery and 12 days of minor surgery over a 50-week year). However, the total dollars to fund such an expansion could not be released from within the Canmore budget, and additional dollars were not forthcoming from the health region. A secondary objective of implementing an additional minor surgery day every 3 weeks was pursued and the required resources were obtained.
Due to resource constraints in health care, efforts by both clinicians and administrators should be made to better spend available resources. The marginal analysis process used in this study served as a useful framework for priority setting, which is generalizable to other surgical and nonsurgical programs in Canada.
Setting priorities and selecting topics are important steps in guidelines development, but they have received relatively little attention to date. Responses from a survey of guidelines stakeholders in Canada suggest that the health burden of a clinical condition on the population is an important factor in priority setting. Economic considerations, cast as either costs of treatment to the health care system or the economic burden of illness to society, are given varying importance by different stakeholder groups. Drawing on the literature and the survey results, the authors propose a framework for priority setting. Important issues requiring consideration include the role of public and community participation, the need for and appropriate emphasis on quantitative data regarding current practice and its variation, and mechanisms to link guidelines to health-policy development and management of the health care system.
In this paper, we focus on those policy instruments with monetary incentives that are used to contain public health expenditure in high-income countries. First, a schematic view of the main cost-containment methods and the variables in the health system they intend to influence is presented. Two types of instruments to control the level and growth of public health expenditure are considered: (i) provider payment methods that influence the price and quantity of health care, and (ii) cost-containment measures that influence the behaviour of patients. Belonging to the first type of instruments, we have: fee-for-service, per diem payment, case payment, capitation, salaries and budgets. The second type of instruments consists of patient charges and reference price systems for pharmaceuticals. Secondly, we provide an overview of experience in high-income countries that use or have used these particular instruments. Finally, the paper assesses the overall potential of these instruments in cost-containment policies.
Swedish health care authorities use three key criteria to produce national guidelines for local priority setting: severity of the health condition, expected patient benefit, and cost-effectiveness of medical intervention. Priority setting in primary health care (PHC) has significant implications for health costs and outcomes in the health care system. Nevertheless, these guidelines have been implemented to a very limited degree in PHC. The objective of the study was to qualitatively assess how general practitioners (GPs) and nurses perceive the application of the three key priority-setting criteria.
Focus groups were held with GPs and nurses at primary health care centres, where the staff had a short period of experience in using the criteria for prioritising in their daily work.
The staff found the three key priority-setting criteria (severity, patient benefit, and cost-effectiveness) to be valuable for priority setting in PHC. However, when the criteria were applied in PHC, three additional dimensions were identified: 1) viewpoint (medical or patient's), 2) timeframe (now or later), and 3) evidence level (group or individual).
The three key priority-setting criteria were useful. Considering the three additional dimensions might enhance implementation of national guidelines in PHC and is probably a prerequisite for the criteria to be useful in priority setting for individual patients.
To determine the priorities of low-income urban residents for interventions that address the socio-economic determinants of health.
We selected and estimated the cost of 16 interventions related to education, housing, nutrition, employment, health care, healthy behavior, neighborhood improvement, and transportation. Low-income residents of Washington, D.C. (N=431) participated in decision exercises to prioritize these interventions.
Given a budget valued at approximately twice an estimated cost of medical and dental care ($885), the interventions ultimately prioritized by the greatest percentage of individuals were: health insurance (95%), housing vouchers (82%) dental care (82%), job training (72%), adult education (63%), counseling (68%), healthy behavior incentives (68%), and job placement (67%). The percentages of respondents who received support for housing, adult education, and job training and placement were far less than the percentage who prioritized these interventions.
Poor and low-income residents’ priorities may usefully inform allocation of social services that affect health.
Health status disparity; health promotion; poverty; resource allocation; public participation
To analyse attitudes to priority setting among patients in Swedish primary healthcare.
A questionnaire was given to patients comprising statements on attitudes towards prioritizing, on the role of politicians and healthcare staff in prioritizing, and on patient satisfaction with the outcome of their contact with primary healthcare (PHC).
Four healthcare centres in Sweden, chosen through purposive sampling.
All the patients in contact with the health centres during a two-week period in 2004 (2517 questionnaires, 72% returned).
Patient attitudes to priority setting and satisfaction with the outcome of their contact.
More than 75% of the patients agreed with statements like “Public health services should always provide the best possible care, irrespective of cost”. Almost three-quarters of the patients wanted healthcare staff rather than politicians to make decisions on priority setting. Younger patients and males were more positive towards priority setting and they also had a more positive view of the role of politicians. Less than 10% of the patients experienced some kind of economic rationing but the majority of these patients were satisfied with their contact with primary care.
Primary care patient opinions concerning priority setting are a challenge for both politicians and GPs. The fact that males and younger patients are less negative to prioritizing may pave the way for a future dialogue between politicians and the general public.
Health priorities; family practice; patient participation; patient satisfaction; primary healthcare; rationing
Priority setting, or determining how to best allocate limited resources, is an important first step for evidence-based public health approaches in community-based organizations (CBOs), but guidance for such work is limited. This study aims to study drivers of priority setting and the way CBOs use data for this work. Data come from PLANET MassCONECT, a Community-Based Participatory Research project focused on knowledge translation among CBOs targeting the underserved in Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester, MA. We conducted four focus group discussions with CBO staff members (31 participants) in 2008 and a survey of 214 CBO staff members in 2009. Multiple, often competing factors appear to drive priority setting, including data, funding, partnerships, and community preferences. The process may be hindered by challenges related to finding, evaluating, and utilizing data for priority setting. Supporting CBOs in efforts to use data effectively and incorporate context into systematic priority-setting processes is vital.
Evidence-based public health; Evidence-based program; Priority setting; Community-based, participatory research; Research evidence; Community-based organizations
Procedures for priority setting need to incorporate both scientific evidence and public values. The aim of this study was to test out a model for priority setting which incorporates both scientific evidence and public values, and to explore use of evidence by a selection of stakeholders and to study reasons for the relative ranking of health care interventions in a setting of extreme resource scarcity.
Systematic search for and assessment of relevant evidence for priority setting in a low-income country. Development of a balance sheet according to Eddy's explicit method. Eight group interviews (n-85), using a modified nominal group technique for eliciting individual and group rankings of a given set of health interventions.
The study procedure made it possible to compare the groups' ranking before and after all the evidence was provided to participants. A rank deviation is significant if the rank order of the same intervention differed by two or more points on the ordinal scale. A comparison between the initial rank and the final rank (before deliberation) showed a rank deviation of 67%. The difference between the initial rank and the final rank after discussion and voting gave a rank deviation of 78%.
Evidence-based and deliberative decision-making does change priorities significantly in an experimental setting. Our use of the balance sheet method was meant as a demonstration project, but could if properly developed be feasible for health planners, experts and health workers, although more work is needed before it can be used for laypersons.
Improving palliative care is a public health priority. However, little is known about the views of public health experts regarding the state of palliative care in Germany and the challenges facing it. The main aim of this pilot study was to gather information on the views of internationally experienced public health experts with regard to selected palliative care issues, with the focus on Germany, and to compare their views with those of specialist palliative care experts. Qualitative guided interviews were performed with ten experts (five from palliative care, five from public health). The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Older people and non-cancer patients were identified as target groups with a particular priority for palliative care. By contrast to the public health experts, the palliative care experts emphasized the need for rehabilitative measures for palliative patients and the possibilities of providing these. Significant barriers to the further establishment of palliative care were seen, amongst other things, in the powerful lobby groups and the federalism of the German health system.
The findings suggest that from the experts' point of view (1) palliative care should focus on the needs of older people particularly in view of the demographic changes; (2) more attention should be paid to rehabilitative measures in palliative care; (3) rivalries among different stakeholders regarding their responsibilities and the allocation of financial resources have to be overcome in Germany.
Infertility has recently been construed to be a serious problem in sub-Saharan Africa. This problem seems to be viewed as of low priority with reference to the effective and efficient allocation of available health resources by national governments as well as by international donors sponsoring either research or service delivery in the public health sector. In this paper the problem of infertility in Nigeria is surveyed with a view to assessing the ethical dimension of proposals to manage infertility as a public sector priority in health care delivery. The population/individual and public/private distinction in the formulation of health policy has ethical implications that cannot simply be ignored and are therefore engaged in critically assessing the problem of infertility. Cost–utility analysis (such as Quality Adjusted Life-Year composite index) in the management of infertility in Nigeria entails the need for caution relevant to the country’s efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals. This should remain the case whether the ethical evaluation appeals to utilitarian or contractarian (Rawlsian) principles. The “worst off ” category of Nigerians includes (1) underweight children less than 5 years of age, with special concern for infants (0–1 years of age) and (2) the proportion of the population below a minimum level of dietary consumption. The Rawlsian ethic implies that any Federal Ministry of Health policy aimed at establishing public programs for infertility management can be considered a “fair” allocation and expenditure if, and only if, the situation for these two cohorts is not thereby made worse. Nigerian health policy cannot assume this type of increased allocation of its resources to infertility care without it being hard pressed to warrant defensible moral or rational argument.
infertility; bioethics; health policy; Nigeria
Unlike pharmaceuticals and private medical services there is no single source of funding for illness prevention and health promotion and no systematic process for setting priorities in public health. There is a need to improve the efficiency of access to health funding across prevention and treatment.
We discuss a number of reforms to existing funding arrangements including the creation of a national Preventative Priorities Advisory Committee (PrePAC) to set priorities. We propose the establishment of a PrePAC to provide evidence and set priorities across health promotion and illness prevention, with a national dedicated fund for health promotion.
A national evidence-based funding system for illness prevention and health promotion would legitimise a substantial and sustained budget for health promotion, breaking down some of the barriers in a fragmented federal health care system.
Alcohol policy priorities in Australia have been set by the National Preventative Health Task Force, yet significant reform has not occurred. News media coverage of these priorities has not reported public health experts as in agreement and Government has not acted upon the legislative recommendations made. We investigate policy experts’ views on alcohol policy priorities with a view to establishing levels of accord and providing suggestions for future advocates.
We conducted semi-structured in depth interviews with alcohol policy experts and advocates around Australia. Open-ended questions examined participants’ thoughts on existing policy recommendations, obvious policy priorities and specifically, the future of national reforms to price and promotions policies. All transcripts were analysed for major themes and points of agreement or disagreement.
Twenty one alcohol policy experts agreed that pricing policies are a top national priority and most agreed that “something should be done” about alcohol advertising. Volumetric taxation and minimum pricing were regarded as the most important price policies, yet differences emerged in defining the exact form of a proposed volumetric tax. Important differences in perspective emerged regarding alcohol promotions, with lack of agreement about the preferred form regulations should take, where to start and who the policy should be directed at. Very few discussed online advertising and social networks.
Despite existing policy collaborations, a clear ‘cut through’ message is yet to be endorsed by all alcohol control advocates. There is a need to articulate and promote in greater detail the specifics of policy reforms to minimum pricing, volumetric taxation and restrictions on alcohol advertising, particularly regarding sporting sponsorships and new media.
Alcohol advertising; Alcohol pricing; Policy; Public health; Advocacy