Attitudes to health care prioritisation methods and criteria among nurses, doctors, politicians and the general public

Soc Sci Med. 1999 Dec;49(11):1529-39. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(99)00222-1.


The aim of this postal questionnaire study was to measure attitudes to health care prioritisation criteria among the Finnish general public (n = 1156), politicians (n = 1096), doctors (n = 803) and nurses (n = 667), altogether 3722 subjects. The questionnaire consisted of questions on background data, a list of seven alternative prioritisation methods and a list of 11 possible criteria for health care prioritisation. The most acceptable prioritisation methods were increased treatment fees and restricting expensive treatments and examinations. Only a few supported administrative prioritisation decisions. One third of the general public indicated that they did not accept any limitations in health care, whereas only 5% of doctors agreed with them. More doctors accepted prioritisation methods than respondents in other groups. Patient is a child, patient is an elderly person, severity of the disease and prognosis of the disease were the most accepted prioritisation criteria. Politicians and the general public also accepted self-induced nature of disease and patient's wealth as prioritisation crieteria. Logistic regression analysis of the general public respondents demonstrated that male gender, higher education and higher personal income were associated with acceptance of most prioritisation criteria. Similarly, older age of the respondent was associated with acceptance of self-induced nature of disease and patient's wealth as prioritisation criteria.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Care Rationing
  • Health Priorities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses*
  • Physicians*
  • Politics*
  • Regression Analysis