Objectives: Ethical evaluation has become an important part of health technology assessment (HTA), but so far no generally accepted method for doing this exists. This article explains the eclectic approach developed at the Finnish HTA office.
Methods: Each HTA report is produced in cooperation with the methodological and clinical experts from various levels of healthcare organizations. An open framework for ethical evaluation when assessing different types of interventions is used to identify all possible stakeholders for each particular intervention. The ethical consequences for each party are identified during the entire process of the HTA project.
Results: The results of an ethical evaluation in four different HTA projects (two on screening, one on surgical intervention, and one in rehabilitation) show that an open framework is useful for opening discussion and understanding the scope of each ethical evaluation. Both content and methodological experts have found the process to be useful in capturing the broad consequences of implementing a new method.
Conclusions: Ethical evaluation is a continuous process that considers the prevalent morals, values, and behavioral models of the society. An in-depth ethical evaluation helps the decision-makers to realize the consequences that implementing a new method has on individual citizens, the healthcare system, and society.