Personalised medicine and the state: A political discourse analysis

Viola Burau; Nina Konstantin Nissen; Morten Deleuran Terkildsen; Ulla Væggemose


The last decade has seen a range of health policy initiatives relating to personalised medicine. There is an emerging body of studies that demonstrates the continued importance of states in the development of personalised medicine. This paper contributes to this literature by focusing on how political discourses construct the role of states in personalised medicine.

Based on a case study of the introduction of a national programme in Denmark, the analysis identifies specific discursive mechanisms in this construction. The material consists of documents from key national stakeholders, media coverage and interviews with experts at the national level.

The analysis found three types of discursive mechanisms. Firstly, mechanisms can relate to problem definitions, and these were concerned with a number of salient problems of health services. Secondly, mechanisms can relate to underlying assumptions, and these were about the possibility of engineering healthcare improvement through data and by extension personalised medicine. Thirdly, mechanisms can relate to discursive effects, and here the state emerged as a highly influential governor. These mechanisms are likely to be highly relevant for other countries, but future research needs to test this.

Health policy practitioners and health administrators thus need to invest effort into influencing political discourses around personalised medicines, in addition to the formulation of policies itself.

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Personalised medicine and the state: A political discourse analysis

Udgivelsesform Videnskabelige artikler
År 2020
Udgiver Health Policy