Ethical theories and values in priority setting: A case study of the iranian health system

Akram Khayatzadeh-Mahani, Marianna Fotaki, Gillian Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Priority setting in health care means making distributional decisions, which inherently involves limiting access to some health services. Public health ethics involves many ethical principles like efficiency, equity and individual choice, which are frequently appealed to but rarely analysed. How these concepts are understood and applied impacts on healthcare planning and delivery policies. This article discusses findings of a research study undertaken in the context of the Iranian health system in which two main ethical values appear to be operating: equity and personal choice. It asserts that the pro-market perspective, driven by individual choice appears to be dominant as it is influenced by the powerful medical profession. This is despite egalitarian intentions proclaimed in the Constitution and the majority of national laws. The study argues that the market influence in healthcare priority setting is unlikely to diminish because of weak implementation of existing laws. In conclusion, the article suggests that the private health sector could help to achieve the state's proclaimed egalitarian goals only if new regulatory systems and new systems of governance are implemented. Such measures should be aimed at monitoring and controlling the performance of the private sector, to better manage and harness its capacities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-72
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Health Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • priority setting
  • health care
  • Iranian health system
  • public health ethics


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethical theories and values in priority setting: A case study of the iranian health system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this