At the recent international annual meeting on Health Technology Assessment (HTA), the HTA group of Radboudumc has received the Sigrid Droste award for its long-standing work on ethics and HTA. It is widely recognized that the use of health technologies can raise ethical questions. However, no satisfactory way was available for integrating research into such issues within a wider framework of empirical inquiry.
In conventional models of HTA, research into the safety, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health technologies is completely separate from research into ethical issues. This ignores the obvious fact that the former is driven by a commitment to ethical principles such as avoiding harm, relief of suffering, and distributing resources fairly. A more productive approach in HTA, then, is to acknowledge such commitments from the start, and to see what sort of questions arise from them and how these can best be addressed. A strength of such an approach is that it can also account for when, why and how various stakeholders (e.g., patients, clinicians, manufacturers, policy makers) can be productively involved in HTA.
The Radboudumc group has developed such an approach within the VALIDATE project (VALues In Doing Assessments of health TEchnologies), funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union. The project has resulted in an e-learning course for Master students, and a handbook that was recently published with Radboud University Press. The Sigrid Droste award was handed to Gert Jan van der Wilt, professor and chair of Radboudumc’s HTA group.
The VALIDATE handbook can be downloaded for free from the website of Radboud University Press: https://radbouduniversitypress.nl/site/books/e/10.54195/CKHB1659). For further information on the VALIDATE project, see https://validatehta.eu.
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