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Open Access Research article

Health care priority setting in Norway a multicriteria decision analysis

Thierry Defechereux1*, Francesco Paolucci3, Andrew Mirelman1, Sitaporn Youngkong4, Grete Botten2, Terje P Hagen2 and Louis W Niessen1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, USA

2 Department of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, PO Box 1089, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway

3 Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National University, M Block, cnr Mills & Eggleston Roads, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

4 Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:39  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-39

Published: 15 February 2012



Priority setting in population health is increasingly based on explicitly formulated values. The Patients Rights Act of the Norwegian tax-based health service guaranties all citizens health care in case of a severe illness, a proven health benefit, and proportionality between need and treatment. This study compares the values of the country's health policy makers with these three official principles.


In total 34 policy makers participated in a discrete choice experiment, weighting the relative value of six policy criteria. We used multi-variate logistic regression with selection as dependent valuable to derive odds ratios for each criterion. Next, we constructed a composite league table - based on the sum score for the probability of selection - to rank potential interventions in five major disease areas.


The group considered cost effectiveness, large individual benefits and severity of disease as the most important criteria in decision making. Priority interventions are those related to cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. Less attractive interventions rank those related to mental health.


Norwegian policy makers' values are in agreement with principles formulated in national health laws. Multi-criteria decision approaches may provide a tool to support explicit allocation decisions.