Just Severity

Priority setting in healthcare often hinges on the perceived severity of a condition. But who decides what is severe, and on what grounds? Just Severity will develop a more ethically sound concept of severity.

  • Period: 2022-01-01 – 2024-12-31
  • Budget: 20,000,000 SEK
  • Funder: Swedish Research Council

Severity as a priority setting criterion in healthcare

Severity of illness is a key factor in determining resource distribution in healthcare systems. This is supported by the preferences of patients and citizens and is partly regulated by legislation. In many healthcare systems, the assessment of illness severity can influence whether patients receive access to treatment, especially in cases involving the introduction of new drugs.

However, the use of the concept of severity has faced criticism for being unclear and lacking a solid ethical foundation. The criticism stems from the varied and sometimes contradictory interpretations of the degree of difficulty in assessing severity.

To address this issue, the Just Severity project will develop a more ethically sound concept of severity. This concept will serve as a basis for principles guiding the distribution of healthcare resources. The legal aspect of the project involves evaluating the proposed severity concept against national and international laws and considering constitutional frameworks that allow for legal regulation of these issues.

The methodology employed in the project is empirical ethics, which combines theoretical ethical analyses with empirical investigations. This approach ensures that the proposed concept is not only theoretically sound but also practically applicable and aligned with the experiences and perspectives of individuals involved in healthcare.

Associated PhD project

This project also includes Adam Ehlert's PhD project Severity as a priority setting criterion in healthcare.

  • Linköping University, Sweden
  • Uppsala University's Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics, Sweden

People in the project

Project leader: Lars Sandman, Linköpings universitet
Co-investigators: Niklas Juth, Uppsala universitets Centrum för forsknings- & bioetik, Adam Ehlert, Uppsala universitets Centrum för forsknings- & bioetik, Erik Gustavsson, Linköpings universitet, Martin Henriksson, Linköpings universitet, Moa Kindström Dahlin, Uppsala universitet
Further members can be found in the University directory.