Public Health Modelling
Public health modelling is an important technique to understand the potential impact of public health interventions (health impact modelling) and can be used to make forecasts of the burden and pattern of disease in the future (forecasting).
Modelling of non-communicable disease is of significant value in public health, being used to provide evidence to inform local, national and international policies to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs). For example it has had an influence on the minimum unit pricing debate in the UK (Purshouse et al, 2010), and can be used to inform decisions, e.g. modelling the cost-effectiveness of interventions for primary cardiovascular disease (Cobiac et al, 2012).
It is an important complement to other approaches e.g. randomised controlled trials and natural experimental studies, which often cannot adequately address questions concerning population impact in a timely manner.
However, the use of modelling studies may be limited or impaired by a lack of consistent reporting. Methods are often not as transparent as they could be, making it difficult to draw comparisons between models and critically analyse work.
Developing Reporting Guidelines
The production of standardised reporting guidelines (e.g. CONSORT guidelines for clinical trials) has been associated with a marked improvement in reporting quality. Guidelines for reporting modelling studies could be similarly valuable, setting out a minimum dataset to be reported on to allow the interpretation of modelling studies.
We are proposing to develop reporting guidelines for Public Health NCD Modelling Studies, working in collaboration with the EQUATOR Network. Guideline development will be an international collaborative process and follow the six stage process outlined by the EQUATOR Network.
Building on earlier work, we undertook a consultation on the scope of studies for the proposed guidelines in August and September 2018. A copy of the revised scope can be found here. We have also established, and are seeking to grow, an international network of public health NCD modellers who will collaborate to produce the guidelines. We are currently seeking funding to develop the guidelines, and if successful work will begin in September 2019 and the guidelines published in summer 2021.
If you would like to learn more, comment on the proposed scope or contribute to the production of the guidelines please email Oliver.
Dr Adam Briggs, Harkness Fellow, Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Dr Oliver Mytton, Clinical Lecturer Public Health, MRC Epidemiology Unit
Dr Laura Webber, Director of Public Health Modelling, UK Health Forum