Emotional Adaptation and the Goals of Health Care Policy

Award Year:
Peter Ubel
Ethical Dilemmas and Resource Allocation
Researchers have shown that people can adapt emotionally to a wide range of adverse circumstances. But predictions about how fully people will or will not adapt to serious illness and disability, either physical or mental, are often wrong. For example, people with quadriplegia report moods and quality of life that are similar to those reported by people who are healthy, and exceed what healthy people believe their moods and quality of life would be if they were to become quadriplegic. How do these beliefs affect the choices made when patients seek treatments for illnesses, when payers determine coverage policies, and when policymakers weigh programmatic or financing options? What role should well-being play in determining health care priorities, and how should policies that aim to maximize health address conditions where improving physical functioning and well-being do not go hand in hand? Peter A. Ubel, M.D. examines these complicated questions in his project, Emotional Adaptation and the Goals of Health Care Policy. This study attempts to break new ground by introducing insights from well-being research to debates about the cost-effectiveness of medical treatments, coverage decisions by payers, and discussions about health care priorities in the United States.