Age as a Criterion for Setting Priorities in Health Care? A Survey of the German Public View

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023930. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Priorities / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Opinion
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult