INTRODUCTION: Until now, industry and government stakeholders have dominated public discourse about policy options for obesity. While consumer involvement in health service delivery and research has been embraced, methods which engage consumers in health policy development are lacking. Conflicting priorities have generated ethical concern around obesity policy. The concept of 'intrusiveness' has been applied to policy decisions in the UK, whereby ethical implications are considered through level of intrusiveness to choice; however, the concept has also been used to avert government regulation to address obesity. The concept of intrusiveness has not been explored from a stakeholder's perspective. The aim is to investigate the relevance of intrusiveness and autonomy to health policy development, and to explore consensus on obesity policy priorities of under-represented stakeholders.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The Policy-Delphi technique will be modified using the James Lind Alliance approach to collaborative priority setting. A total of 60 participants will be recruited to represent three stakeholder groups in the Australian context: consumers, public health practitioners and policymakers. A three-round online Policy-Delphi survey will be undertaken. Participants will prioritise options informed by submissions to the 2009 Australian Government Inquiry into Obesity, and rate the intrusiveness of those proposed. An additional round will use qualitative methods in a face-to-face discussion group to explore stakeholder perceptions of the intrusiveness of options. The novelty of this methodology will redress the balance by bringing the consumer voice forward to identify ethically acceptable obesity policy options.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval was granted by the Bond University Health Research Ethics Committee. The findings will inform development of a conceptual framework for analysing and prioritising obesity policy options, which will be relevant internationally and to ethical considerations of wider public health issues. The findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations and collaborative platforms of policy and science.
- study protocol