Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update. Background Paper 3 - Approaches to Priority Setting
(2013; 35 pages)

Priority setting is a challenge at all levels (global, national, and local) and for all contexts in health systems because demand for health care usually exceeds available resources. Both consumers and funders are demanding greater accountability for how limited health resources are used to meet health system goals. Public and private sector funders must make difficult decisions about which fields and specific studies to support.

Indeed, there is virtually no consensus regarding which, or whose, values should guide these decisions and how these values should inform priority setting decisions. In brief, there is no "best practice"...

Setting priorities for health research includes two broad approaches: technical analyses which rely on quantifiable epidemiologic, clinical, financial or other data, and interpretive assessments which rely on consensus views of informed participants....

This chapter reviews the various approaches which have been used to set priorities for health research in both international and national settings and explains the rationale for the choice of methods used in this project. The underlying key message is that all methods of priority-setting have limitations and different methods need to be used depending on the circumstances.

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