NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 20, 2007

Health professionals generally prioritize spending on the young over the old and on preventive care over curative care, according to a new international survey.

Results of the survey:

  • Childhood immunization, anti-smoking education for children and general practitioner care for everyday illness, respectively, were the top three priorities among health professionals.
  • Screening for breast cancer, intensive care for neonates, support for carers of the elderly and treatment for people with schizophrenia ranked in the middle.
  • Hip replacement, heart transplant and cancer treatment for smokers were ranked last.

The values expressed by the health professionals in the study transcended national and sectoral boundaries, say the authors.  Yet this preference is at odds with the actual spending priorities in most countries throughout the world--most governments spend more on curative than on preventive health care services.

"If health care professionals and policy makers believe that prevention and targeting the young is an important principle for health spending priorities, then health care funders should examine the cost effectiveness evidence for intervening early in life," conclude the authors.

Source: Editorial, " Health Professionals Would Prioritize Spending On The Young Over The Old,", February 20, 2007; based upon: G. Salkeld et al., "What drives healthcare spending priorities? An international survey of health-care professionals," Public Library of Science, PLoS Med 4(2): e94, 2007.

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