Objectives: To assess the feasibility of using a citizens' jury to elicit public values on health technologies and to develop criteria for setting priorities for health technology assessment (HTA).
Methods: Sixteen individuals were selected from 1600 randomly sampled residents of the Capital Health Region in Alberta, Canada. They participated in a 2 (1/2) day jury which comprised presentations by 'expert witnesses', who represented innovators, patients, health-care policy-makers and clinicians, as well as a series of small and large group priority-setting exercises based on actual examples of technologies that had recently been considered for assessment by local and national HTA bodies. The session was audio-taped, and transcripts were independently reviewed by two researchers using content analytical techniques in order to ensure that no important concepts expressed by individual jurors were missed during group development of the final list of priority-setting criteria. Jurors evaluated the process by completing self-administered, semi-structured questionnaires at the end of the session. Responses were analysed using qualitative methods.
Results: The jury identified 13 criteria, which they subsequently ranked in order of importance. The top two criteria included 'potential to benefit a number of people' and 'extends life with quality'. Based on feedback from questionnaires, jurors valued the opportunity to become engaged in such a process, and expressed interest in participating in future juries.
Conclusions: Citizens' juries offer a feasible approach to involving the public in priority-setting for HTA. Furthermore, technologies that may benefit a number of people and improve quality of life appear to be of greatest importance to the public.