What factors determine the choice of public engagement undertaken by health technology assessment decision-making organizations?

31 July 2017

Purpose: Public engagement in health technology assessment (HTA) is increasingly considered crucial for good decision-making. Determining the “right” type of engagement activity is key in achieving the appropriate consideration of public values. Little is known about the factors that determine how HTA organizations decide on their method of public engagement, and there are a number of possible factors that might shape these decisions. This paper seeks to understand the potential drivers of public engagement choice from an organizational perspective. Design/Methodology/: The published HTA literature is reviewed alongside existing frameworks of public engagement in order to elucidate key factors influencing the choice of public engagement process undertaken by HTA organizations. A conceptual framework is then developed to illustrate the factors identified from the literature that appear to influence public engagement choice. Findings: Determining the type of public engagement to be undertaken in HTA is based on multiple factors, some of which are not always explicitly acknowledged. These factors include: perceived complexity of the policymaking issue, perceived impact of the decision, transparency and opportunities for public involvement in governance, as well as time and resource constraints. The influence of these factors varies depending on the context, indicating that a one size fits all approach to public engagement may not be effective. Originality/value: Awareness of the various factors that might influence the type of public engagement undertaken would enable decision-makers to reflect on their choices and be more accountable and transparent about their choice of engagement process in eliciting public values and preferences in a HTA organization.