What is Public Deliberation?

Relevance to health care

Many healthcare problems today cannot be answered easily with medical research or better communication. These problems are complex and multi-faceted, often requiring priority-setting or making trade-offs. This is the backdrop for public deliberation: asking the public to help answer questions that have no easy or obvious answers.

Moving from consumer to citizen

The usual avenues for public input, e.g., petitions, town hall meetings, telephone surveys, etc., capture public opinion. But public opinion does not provide sufficient information to address challenging issues in healthcare delivery, cost-sharing, coverage or research. Deliberation is a more intense process for understanding public values. It asks regular people to become “social decision-makers,” thinking in terms of what is in the best interest of all of us.

Steps for deliberation

Addressing contemporary health policy questions through deliberation is a multi-step process:

  • Decide on a particular health policy issue for discussion
  • Identify the individuals or groups whose input is important
  • Develop accurate, non-partisan educational material
  • Design pre and post-discussion survey questions
  • Create a non-partisan, step-by-step guide for the group discussion
  • Recruit and convene participants
  • Facilitate interactive in-person or on-line discussions
  • Plan/implement the quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Distribute the findings to policymakers.

CHCD has been promoting and implementing deliberative sessions in health care for 20 years.