Consumer attitudes toward key issues affecting health policy decisions in the local community have been ignored both by local health policy makers and by medical sociologists. The authors report an empirical analysis of: (1) consumer attitudes toward federal intervention in health care; (2) consumer perceptions of the free market philosophy of health providers; (3) consumer perceptions of their involvement in health policy making; (4) consumer confidence in present systems of health services delivery; and (5) consumer awareness of recent major health legislation. It was found that consumers are poorly informed about recent healh legislation. It was found that consumers are poorly informed about recent health care legislation. The authors compared the attitudes of consumers with those held by local hospital board members toward health policy issues. The differences for all comparisons were statistically significant. The authors argue that hospital board members attribute problems in health services delivery to demand dysfunctions while consumers perceive the problems to be a result of supply dysfunctions. Thus, failure to include consumers on health policy boards guarantees the absence of a solution-oriented dialogue and promotes the continuing predominance of a provider-biased ideology.

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