Public Deliberation in Health Policy and Bioethics: Mapping an emerging, interdisciplinary field


For over two decades, the “deliberative turn” has rooted itself in the fields of health policy and bioethics, producing a growing body of deliberation in action and associated academic scholarship. With this growing use and study of citizen deliberation processes in the health sector, we set out to map this dynamic field to highlight its diversity, interdisciplinarity, stated and implicit goals and early contributions. More specifically, we explored how public deliberation (PD) is being experimented with in real-world health settings, with a view to assessing how well it is meeting current definitions and common features of PD. Our review provides an informative and up-to-date set of reflections on the relatively short but rich history of public deliberation in the health sector. This emerging, interdisciplinary field is characterized by an active community of scholars and practitioners working diligently to address a range of bioethics and health policy challenges, guided by a common but loosely interpreted set of core features. Current definitions and conceptualizations of public deliberation’s core features would benefit from expansion and refinement to both guide and respond to practice developments. Opportunities for more frequent cross-disciplinary and theory-practice exchange would also strengthen this field.


bioethics, health policy, deliberative processes, public deliberation

How to Cite

Abelson J. & Blacksher E. & Li K. & Boesveld S. & Goold S., (2013) “Public Deliberation in Health Policy and Bioethics: Mapping an emerging, interdisciplinary field”, Journal of Public Deliberation 9(1). doi:







Julia Abelson (McMaster University)
Erika A. Blacksher (University of Washington)

Kathy K. Li (McMaster University)

Sarah E. Boesveld (McMaster University)

Susan D. Goold (University of Michigan)





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This article has been peer reviewed.

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