Societal issues

Society and culture shape both ethical norms and how decisions are made, meaning that decisions about the same technology may differ in different societies. It is important to remember that ethical and societal issues may not be the same. Some aspects of societal outcomes, such as anxiety associated with technology use or human integrity, may overlap with clinical and ethical outcomes.

Societal effects can be researched by a review of existing literature or through original study. However, the studies carried out to understand what societal effects may occur do not borrow from epidemiology but rather from other disciplines – such as sociology or medical anthropology. These studies are typically qualitative. Often, they try to discover which outcomes are relevant, rather than identifying the outcomes ahead of time. These studies rely on patient experiences in order to understand the societal and cultural effects of new technologies. Thus, this is a growing area where patients can play a substantial role in shaping existing HTA processes.