An investigation into priority setting by hospital formulary committees in British Columbia: what weight does evidence carry in the face of competing factors?

Some health care services are prioritized at the expense of others, due to limited resources. Many decision makers set priorities for allocating resources based on evidence derived through health economics and clinical research. The trend towards evidence-informed health policies has gained considerable momentum in Canada, particularly with pharmaceutical policy because drugs are a major cost driver in the health system. It is clear, however, that health policies are not determined solely on the basis of health research evidence. Kristy Armstrong is examining the roles played by evidence and other factors — such as an institution’s values, and the interests of key stakeholders — during decision making about drug coverage in both a regional health authority and a hospital in British Columbia. This study will help clarify the environment in which health policy is set and potentially point to ways of more effectively integrating use of evidence in decision making.