Patients’ Age Is Important When Setting Priorities

Tromsø, Norway – Several studies on priority setting preferences have shown that people think that differences both in patients’ ageand in remaining lifetime should be taken into account. Researchers from the University of Tromsø in Norway set out to determine what is more important: A patient’s age or their remaining lifetime if left untreated?

Survey results from a Norwegian population sample provided strong support for the ‘fair innings’ argument that total lifetime inequalities should be reduced.  Differences in patients’ remaining lifetime without treatment did not matter, implying little support for the ‘end of life’ argument that a short life expectancy makes patients entitled to preferential treatment.

When faced with pairwise choices between hypothetical patients, the majority of respondents would prioritise the younger patient even if the older patient had shorter remaining lifetime if left untreated.

Professor Jan Abel Olsen, PhD, lead author on the study states, “It is more important to reduce inequalities in people’s total lifetime than in their remaining lifetime.”  The full study, “Priority Preferences: “End of Life” Does Not Matter, But Total Life Does,” is published inValue in Health.


Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as policy papers to help health care leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal is published bi-monthly and has over 8,000 subscribers (clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers worldwide).

International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

For more information: www.ispor.org

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