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Citizen Participation in Health Decision-Making: Past Experience and Future Prospects

John Church, Duncan Saunders, Margaret Wanke, Raymond Pong, Carol Spooner and Marlene Dorgan
Journal of Public Health Policy
Vol. 23, No. 1 (2002), pp. 12-32
DOI: 10.2307/3343116
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3343116
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Citizen Participation in Health Decision-Making: Past Experience and Future Prospects
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Abstract

Every couple of decades governments decide that they need to involve citizens more in public decision-making processes. The significant changes that have occurred over the past decade, including a growing loss of faith in the traditional institutions of government, have once again prompted political decision-makers to explore options for enhanced citizen participation. In the health care sector, reforms occurring during the 1990s were couched in terms such as "enhanced responsiveness," "improved accountability," and "increased citizen participation." In the new millennium, governments and regional health authorities have been relatively silent on this issue. As has been the case in the past, a wide range of opinions exist about what citizen participation is and how governments should proceed. Without either conceptual clarity or practical direction, governments have been slow to articulate what they hope to achieve or how they intend to get there. The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of citizen participation within the context of a series of basic questions from which decision-makers might draw some policy relevance. Rather than taking a particular disciplinary perspective (i.e. health promotion), the authors have chosen to review a broad spectrum of existing literature to provide a better understanding of what is known about citizen participation, both good and bad. As such, the paper is meant to be a point of departure for an informed discussion of the possibilities for improved citizen participation in health (care) decision-making.

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