The moral relevance of personal characteristics in setting health care priorities

Title: The moral relevance of personal characteristics in setting health care priorities
Authors: Olsen, Jan Abel and Richardson, Jeff and Dolan, Paul and Menzel, Paul
Publisher: Social science & medicine, 57 (7). pp. 1163-1172
ISSN: 0277-9536
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Abstract: This paper discusses the moral relevance of accounting for various personal characteristics when prioritizing between groups of patients. After a review of the results from empirical studies, we discuss the ethical reasons which might explain–and justify–the views expressed in these studies. The paper develops a general framework based upon the causes of ill health and the consequences of treatment. It then turns to the question of the extent to which a personal characteristic–and the eventual underlying ethical justification of its relevance–could have any relationships to these causes and consequences. We attempt to disentangle those characteristics that may reflect a potentially relevant justification from those which violate widely accepted principles of social justice.