Prioritizing Health Care - Tensions and Interplay between Legal, Political, Economic and Professional Perspectives

Project owner

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Project period

January 2013 - November 2017

Project summary

The prioritizing of health services is a challenge that faces all welfare societies. What should the national health services provide? How will they be financed and which patient groups should get priority when capacity and resources are limited? In this interdisciplinary project, we analyze how the prioritization and allocation of health services are regulated.More specifically we explore the regulation of prioritization of healthcare services by means of legal, political, economic, administrative and professional instruments. What is the specific content and purpose of the different instruments regulating distribution and prioritization of healthcare services? Do they produce similar interpretations of relevant concerns, clinical outcomes and coherent concepts of fairness? To make comparisons possible, the researchers focus on cardiovascular medicine with a particular attention on the distributive impact on elderly and socioeconomic disadvantaged patients. The consortium partners and the international board represent a broad range of expertise and disciplines (law and human rights, philosophy, political science, sosiology, anthropology and medicine). Methodology from law, social sciences, health economics and philosophy will be utilized.


The project is divided into three modules In module 1, we conduct a legal analysis of the legal sources and framework regulating access to and distribution of specialist health care services and empirical analyzes of how different actors interpret and apply the legal regulation. In module 2, we conduct both empirical and normative analysis of political, bureaucratic and professional instruments in general and especially in the cardiovascular medical field. In Module 3, we make a comparison and overall analysis of the interplay between the different instruments and how they function as a whole, and how they facilitate fairness in healthcare prioritization and distribution.