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Mental Health - Public Health and Epidemiology - Science Policy

Age as a Criterion for Setting Priorities in Health Care? A Survey of the German Public View
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Author: Adele Diederich et al.

by Adele Diederich, Jeannette Winkelhage, Norman Wirsik

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.