Health-care needs and shared decision-making in priority-setting

Med Health Care Philos. 2015 Feb;18(1):13-22. doi: 10.1007/s11019-014-9568-7.


In this paper we explore the relation between health-care needs and patients' desires within shared decision-making (SDM) in a context of priority setting in health care. We begin by outlining some general characteristics of the concept of health-care need as well as the notions of SDM and desire. Secondly we will discuss how to distinguish between needs and desires for health care. Thirdly we present three cases which all aim to bring out and discuss a number of queries which seem to arise due to the double focus on a patient's need and what that patient desires. These queries regard the following themes: the objectivity and moral force of needs, the prediction about what kind of patients which will appear on a micro level, implications for ranking in priority setting, difficulties regarding assessing and comparing benefits, and implications for evidence-based medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Health Priorities / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Needs Assessment / ethics*
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations