The ethical imperative and moral challenges of engaging patients and the public with evidence

Mildred Z. Solomon, Michael K. Gusmano, Karen J. Maschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Engaging patients and the public with evidence is an ethical imperative because engagement is central to respect for persons and will likely improve health outcomes, facilitate the stewardship of resources, enhance prospects for justice, and build public trust. However, patient and public engagement is also morally complex, because evidence alone is never definitive. As patients and the public engage with evidence, value conflicts will arise and must be managed to achieve trustworthy decision making. We outline value conflicts likely to emerge in the following five settings: clinical care, health care organizations, public health, the regulatory context, and among payers. Using a variety of examples, we offer suggestions about how such conflicts may be managed, including providing more opportunities for democratic deliberation and having more explicit community discussion of how to balance personal choice and community well-being, transparent discussions of cost and quality outcomes, and greater patient engagement in community-based participatory research and the governance of learning health systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-589
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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