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Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS)

Audun Brendbekken

Audun Brendbekken is a medical student following the PhD/research track program. His research focuses on the perceived legitimacy of Norwegian healthcare rationing, and he is expected to finish his cand.med in spring 2023.

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Link to BCEPS 

Before starting medical school, I undertook a bachelor's degree in economics and administration at the Norwegian School of Economics. This experience, combined with a general curiosity for politics from working in a local student newspaper, sparked my interest in health economics and priority setting in healthcare. During medical school, it became obvious to me that the pre-clinical lectures were concerned with new and promising treatments to ill patients, but rarely discussed which patients to prioritize for treatment given budgetary restrictions. 

To learn more about priority setting, I therefore approached BCEPS's director professor Ole Frithjof Norheim, whose lectures about medical ethics and work on Norwegian healthcare rationing principles I had found interesting, to discuss the possibility of supervising a research track project. Together with professor Bjarne Robberstad from HELTER as a co-supervisor, we applied for the research track in fall 2018. After writing my first study protocol and an interview round, I was accepted to begin the research track in August 2019. At this time I was halfway through medical school, and it felt like a good time to take a leave to immerse myself with a specific subject for a year, namely priority setting in healthcare. 

My experience with the programme

The research track year with BCEPS has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I embarked on the research year at the same time as Sara, Marta and Kaya, and alongside other young researchers in the group we formed a youth group branch called @GrowingBCEPS to inspire research and help draw attention to our work within medical ethics and priority setting in health care. At BCEPS, I helped co-organize our internal MedPri-seminars, where group members present their work in progress. I presented my own work at Medpri, and have later presented at student conferences and for clinicians at Haukeland, all of which have contributed to developing my perspectives and communication skills. And although we had to spent the final months of the academic year in our home offices, we were given the opportunity to follow some highly inspiring e-lectures at Harvard School of Public Health during spring 2020.

The research track is a unique and truly valuable programme for young researchers, which I am ever grateful to have been part of. 

My research field 

My research track project concerns «the perceived legitimacy of Norwegian healthcare rationing in the newspaper media». This has been of interest to me due to my experiences working with student newspapers and studying economics before attending medical school. The focus on legitimacy has taught me about procedural justice and transparent decision-making, as well as democratic deliberation. 

Future plans 

I dream of just, equitable and sustainable access to healthcare for all. After finishing my medical doctor degree in 2023, I intend to pursue doctoral level studies on healthcare rationing with BCEPS.