Getting Doctors to Listen: Ethics and Outcomes Data in Context

By Philip J. Boyle | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Technology Assessment:
Inevitably a Value Judgment

"Technology assessment" is a systematically ambiguous term. Its ambiguity causes serious problems for policy makers and clinicians. On the one hand, "assessment" sometimes refers to the scientific study of the potential effects of a medical intervention. As such, technology assessment is often thought in the ideal to be scientific, objective, and value-free. On the other hand, "assessment" sometimes refers to judgments about the benefits and harms anticipated from medical interventions and when they should be pursued. They attempt to tell when a treatment is "medically indicated," "appropriate," or a "treatment of choice." They attempt to tell how patients should be "managed." 1 In this second sense technology assessment necessarily involves value judgments. Even in the ideal case deciding that something is beneficial or harmful, deciding something is indicated or ought to be used in particular circumstances always has to involve judgments about values that in principle cannot be determined by science alone. 2 Words like "beneficial," "harmful," "indicated," and "ought" necessarily convey evaluations that go beyond the scope of what modern practitioners of science consider scientific.

Determining what the expected effect of an intervention will be can, in principle, never tell whether that effect is good or bad, to be preferred or not. It can never tell how the effect compares, in evaluative terms, with other options. Any assessment of technology assessment will have to provide an adequate understanding of the relation between knowing the effects of a treatment and knowing how valuable the treatment is. Without knowing the value of the treatment one can, in principle, never know whether the treatment is worth pursuing.

The Function of Technology Assessment: The Received Wisdom

The critical question for this project is, Is technology assessment supposed to provide facts without value judgment, or is it supposed to provide the necessary value framework for making medical decisions? The received wisdom


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Getting Doctors to Listen: Ethics and Outcomes Data in Context


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 234

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?