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Table 1 The rationale and objectives of the three-year study

From: Assessment of a multimedia-based prospective method to support public deliberations on health technology design: participant survey findings and qualitative insights

The three thematic areas
• Our broader study aims to generate substantive knowledge about the social and ethical issues raised by new health technology and methodological knowledge on the use of multimedia-based tools in public deliberation.
• We chose to structure the study around thematic areas, not specific diseases or technologies, in order to address a large spectrum of usability and ethical issues, while considering the needs and preferences of different social groups across the life course: 1) the use of enhancement technologies in teenagers; 2) preventive interventions for “at risk” adults; and 3) ageing in a high-tech world.
Substantive objective 1
• To analyze the ways in which members of the public, in face-to-face and online multimedia-based deliberative environments, reason and deliberate about the desirability of technical and social changes that may affect the three thematic areas within a 25-year timeframe;
Rationale: The thematic areas offer enough diversity to explore the subtleties, prejudices and nuances by which participants may ponder normative issues in different contexts, for different human beings (i.e., increasing teenagers’ performance vs. offsetting elderly people’s frailty).
Substantive objective 2
• To identify the usability and ethical issues raised by various design assumptions (e.g., intended use, complexity, impact on autonomy) and features (e.g., accuracy, immediacy, invasiveness, costliness) in these three thematic areas;
Rationale: The common thread behind the thematic areas is that they all address the technological redefinition of “normal” cognitive and physical states and processes, and the growing emphasis on the ability to exercise agency over one’s body.
Methodological objective
• To assess the extent to which the sociotechnical scenario method fosters critical, reflective and creative reasoning and deliberations regarding the design of health innovations.
Rationale: Prospective scenarios enable non-experts to envision and relate to potential futures, possibly fostering through an immersion in fiction their creativity and reflexivity about the practical and moral implications of technological and social developments in health care.