Factors affecting nonmedical participants' allocation of scarce medical resources

J Soc Behav Pers. 1998;13(4):735-46.


This study was designed to determine the factors that affect nonmedical participants' judgments in constructing a ranked waiting list for kidney patients requiring dialysis. Participants (N=167) were given a questionnaire that provided minimal demographic data about 16 hypothetical patients. Participants were requested to rank patients in order of priority for treatment. Each participant's personal demographic details were also obtained. Patients differed on four dimensions: gender, income, alcohol consumption, and religious beliefs, yielding a 2x2x2x2 design. The participants favoured for treatment included females over males, "poor" over "rich," nondrinkers over drinkers, and Christians over atheists. Results are discussed in terms of establishing democratic criteria and informing medical personnel on explicit factors which may affect their decision making, thus guarding against biases in judgment.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholism
  • Attitude
  • Data Collection
  • Ethical Theory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Religion
  • Renal Dialysis* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Values
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students