Effectiveness of Public Deliberation Methods for Gathering Input on Issues in Healthcare: Findings from a Randomized Trial
Social Science & Medicine 133:11-20, May 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.024
10 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2018
Date Written: March 14, 2015
Public deliberation elicits informed perspectives on complex issues that are values-laden and lack technical solutions. This Deliberative Methods Demonstration examined the effectiveness of public deliberation for obtaining informed public input regarding the role of medical evidence in U.S. healthcare. We conducted a 5-arm randomized controlled trial, assigning participants to one of four deliberative methods or to a reading materials only (RMO) control group. The four deliberative methods reflected important differences in implementation, including length of the deliberative process and mode of interaction. The project convened 76 groups between August and November 2012 in four U.S. Chicago, IL; Sacramento, CA; Silver Spring, MD; and Durham, NC, capturing a sociodemographically diverse sample with specific attention to ensuring inclusion of Hispanic, African-American, and elderly participants. Of 1774 people recruited, 75% participated: 961 took part in a deliberative method and 377 participants comprised the RMO control group. To assess effectiveness of the deliberative methods overall and of individual methods, we evaluated whether mean pre-post changes on a knowledge and attitude survey were statistically different from the RMO control using ANCOVA. In addition, we calculated mean scores capturing participant views of the impact and value of deliberation. Participating in deliberation increased participants' knowledge of evidence and comparative effectiveness research and shifted participants' attitudes regarding the role of evidence in decision-making. When comparing each deliberative method to the RMO control group, all four deliberative methods resulted in statistically significant change on at least one knowledge or attitude measure. These findings were underscored by self-reports that the experience affected participants' opinions. Public deliberation offers unique potential for those seeking informed input on complex, values-laden topics affecting broad public constituencies.
Keywords: Public deliberation, Public engagement, Citizens' jury, Public opinion, Evidence-based medicine, Comparative effectiveness research, United States
JEL Classification: I18, D70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation