What is a Deliberative Process?

Public policies of various governmental sectors can influence, directly or indirectly, the health of the population. Whether they be policies related to transportation, environment, income, education, child-care, or social housing, these can all impact the determinants of health. As a consequence, decision makers are increasingly being called to adopt healthy public policies; that is, policies which have integrated a preoccupation with population health.

However, adopting healthy public policies is complex. On the one hand, there are many uncertainties as to the potential effects of specific policies on health. On the other, there is often no consensus among civil society, experts and decision makers, as to which policies should be privileged. Indeed, the different actors who will be affected by the policies may have divergent points of view based on their values, needs, preferences, and interests. Thus, decision makers are often stuck in gray zones within which it is difficult to manoeuvre (Callon, Lascoumes et Barthe, 2001).

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the use of deliberative processes as a way of informing decision making. This information sheet is an introduction to that subject. It offers a definition of "deliberation" and "deliberative process". It also gives a brief overview of two major approaches to deliberation as well as a few concrete examples.



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