Growing Old in the Future: Scenarios on Health and Aging 1984-2000, Hollander CF, Becker HA (Eds), Boston, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1987, 305 pages, paperback.
This book provides a detailed report of one government's approach to anticipating the future of health and care needs through the year 2000. In March 1983, the Dutch Minister of Health established the Steering Committee on the Future of Health Scenarios to advise the Health Minister and Secretary of State on the long-term future of health and health care in the Netherlands with a view to enlarge the anticipatory capacity of public policy.
Four Scenario Committeees were created to examine health-related issues in four major areas: coronary and arterial diseases; malignant growth ; lifestyles (especially those involving risk); and aging. These committees were charged with developing scenarios that would provide data for a public policy memorandum.
The scenario approach, which was the pre-determined study methodology, was defined as a description of society's present situation, a series of events derived from the present situation, and directions for the future. The scenarios were to become "images of the future" upon which policy decisions would be made.
This book specifically reports the work of the Scenario Committee on Aging and addresses the following questions: What are likely to be the most important developments that will exert an influence on the health situation of the elderly in the Netherlands between 1984 and 2000? In view of the future health situation of the elderly and their increasing share in the Dutch population, what are the possible patterns of health-care facilities between 1984 and 2000?
Three scenarios were designed and presented: reference, growth, and shrinkage.
The book contained the complete 7chapter report, which included a detailed presentation on the methodology; a description of each of the three scenarios developed; a discussion of the disturbing developments that were identified; and a presentation of application possibilities for scenarios. Tables, figures, and graphs assist the reader in interpreting the data and understanding the findings.
The audience of this report is not clearly delineated, although its usefulness for health and health-care planners and public policy makers is readily discernible. The detailed descriptions and apparent usefulness o[ this methodological approach is particularly relevant for health-care professionals who are engaged in or contemplating research that addresses the evolving health and health-care needs of an increasingly aging population.
This text is a comprehensive, scholarly effort that accomplishes its stated intent of providing the reader with the overall picture of the application of the scenario method in health policy preparation and implementation. This report would be a useful reference guide for health policy planners contemplating the use of the scenario methodology.