We obtained and qualitatively analyzed input from more than nine hundred citizens during seventy-six public deliberation sessions about patient and physician autonomy in decision making, setting health care boundaries, and the tensions among competing social values. Generally, participants resisted interference with the patient-physician relationship and believed strongly in the freedom of patient and physician to control individual medical decisions. However, during deliberation participants identified two situations where boundaries and regulations in health care were more acceptable: protecting people from harm and allocating limited resources. The core value of individual freedom was tempered in varying degrees by the values of concern for the greater good and fairness in allocating resources. Where tensions between values emerged, participants used different concepts—including accountability, transparency, trust, personal responsibility, and moral obligation—to navigate trade-offs. Fairly balancing the public's desire to protect individual freedom with their sense of responsibility for protecting the common good may be the key to developing acceptable, workable policies that promote evidence-based medical practice.

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