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Assessing the quality of democratic deliberation

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Uploaded on Feb 23, 2011

Assessing the quality of democratic deliberation: A case study of public deliberation on the ethics of surrogate consent for research
Raymond De Vries, Aimee Stanczyk, Ian F. Wall, Rebecca Uhlmann, Laura J. Damschroder, Scott Y. Kim
Read the full article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed...

Co-author Raymond de Vries discusses the above article in this video. "Deliberative democracy" (DD) is an increasingly popular method for soliciting public input on health care policies. Although theorists of DD agree that "good" input i.e. input that is the product of careful and thorough reflection, is an essential aspect of useful and effective deliberation, few have actually measured the quality of deliberative sessions. As part of a DD project organized to help guide policy making related to the use of surrogate permission to enrol persons with dementia in medical research, we developed and tested measures of the quality of deliberation. In this paper we examine the deliberative process, describing and assessing what occurred as informed lay persons discussed the social and ethical aspects of surrogate consent. We consider four dimensions of the quality of deliberation: 1) equal participation by all members of the session, 2) respect for the opinions of others, 3) a willingness to adopt a societal perspective on the issue in question (rather than a focus on what is best for participants as individuals), and 4) reasoned justification of one's positions. This article demonstrates that DD can be reliably used to elicit opinions of the public and show how analysis of the quality of deliberations can offer insight into the ways opinions about ethical dilemmas are formed and changed.

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