Social values and health priority setting in Australia: An analysis applied to the context of health technology assessment

Jennifer A. Whitty, Peter Littlejohns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


To describe the role of social values in priority setting related to health technology assessment processes and decision-making in Australia.
The processes and decision criteria of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Benefits Advisory Committees are described based on literature and policy sources, and analysed using a framework for identifying social values in priority-setting.
Transparency and accountability of processes are apparent. Participation balances inclusiveness and effectiveness of decision-making, but presents an opportunity to enhance priority setting processes. Clinical and cost-effectiveness are important content considerations. Social values related to justice/equity are considered, without quantification of criteria weights for equity relative to other factors. HTA processes support solidarity through subsidising approved technologies for all Australians, whilst retaining autonomy by permitting non-subsidised technologies to be accessed privately, leading to possible tension between the values of solidarity, autonomy and equity.
Priority setting related to health technology subsidy incorporates a range of inter-related social values in the processes and content of decision-making. Participation in decision-making could arguably be improved if a patient and public engagement policy were to be formulated alongside more widespread changes across processes to assess social values using approaches such as the Citizens’ Jury.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number2
Early online date16 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Australia
  • Social values
  • Health technology assessment
  • Health priority setting
  • Resource allocation

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