Objectives: To investigate doctors' and nurses'
attitudes toward 14 potential prioritization criteria.
Methods: This study was performed by using the random paired
scenario method. The respondents received a questionnaire with 12 pairs of
scenarios, imaginary patient cases, each of which contained two to three
different prioritization criteria (e.g., child, old patient, poor patient).
Respondents were asked which one of each scenario pair they would choose if
only one patient could be treated. The scenarios were randomly put into 30
different questionnaire sets. There was a random selection of 241 doctors and
151 nurses in Finland, with response rates of 60.3% and 50.3%, respectively.
Results: Doctors prioritized young patients, severe disease,
expensive treatments and posteriorized (negatively prioritized) demented or
institutionalized patients, and patients having a self-caused disease.
Children were strongly prioritized, even over serious diseases. Expensive
treatments appeared to be favored by doctors, and this result cannot be
explained by severity of disease. Nurses' attitudes were similar to those
Conclusions: Children were strongly prioritized. Elderly persons
were posteriorized if they had dementia or were living in institutions.
Patients having a self-caused disease are posteriorized, more often by nurses
than by doctors.