Community Forum Deliberative Methods Demonstration

Growing evidence indicates that informing and engaging the public—both as patients and as citizens—can help achieve better care, better health, and lower costs. Just as partnerships between health professionals and patients and families can contribute to better care decisions, partnerships between policymakers and citizens can help guide decisions on complicated health policy questions. Public deliberation is a unique way of convening a diverse group of citizens to consider an ethical or values-based dilemma and then weigh alternative—often competing—views.

AIR research, conducted as part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Deliberative Methods Demonstration, found that public deliberation is an effective way to gather informed public views on complex health policy issues, such as the role of medical evidence in treatment decisions. The AIR study—Effectiveness of Public Deliberation Methods for Gathering Input on Issues in Healthcare: Results from a Randomized Trial—published in the journal Social Science & Medicine was among the first large-scale randomized controlled trials of alternative methods of public deliberation and included 1,338 people assigned to take part in one of four deliberative methods or to a reading-materials-only control group. Compared to the control group, public deliberation increased participants’ knowledge of medical evidence and comparative effectiveness research and shifted their attitudes about the importance of medical evidence in treatment decisions. 

An AIR fact sheet—Public Deliberation: Bringing Common Sense to Complex Health Policy Issues—details the study’s findings.