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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2011

Modelers' Perception of Mathematical Modeling in Epidemiology: A Web-Based Survey

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Abstract

Background: Mathematical modeling in epidemiology (MME) is being used increasingly. However, there are many uncertainties in terms of definitions, uses and quality features of MME. Methodology/Principal Findings: To delineate the current status of these models, a 10-item questionnaire on MME was devised. Proposed via an anonymous internet-based survey, the questionnaire was completed by 189 scientists who had published in the domain of MME. A small minority (18%) of respondents claimed to have in mind a concise definition of MME. Some techniques were identified by the researchers as characterizing MME (e.g. Markov models), while others–at the same level of sophistication in terms of mathematics–were not (e.g. Cox regression). The researchers' opinions were also contrasted about the potential applications of MME, perceived as higly relevant for providing insight into complex mechanisms and less relevant for identifying causal factors. The quality criteria were those of good science and were not related to the size and the nature of the public health problems addressed. Conclusions/Significance: This study shows that perceptions on the nature, uses and quality criteria of MME are contrasted, even among the very community of published authors in this domain. Nevertheless, MME is an emerging discipline in epidemiology and this study underlines that it is associated with specific areas of application and methods. The development of this discipline is likely to deserve a framework providing recommendations and guidance at various steps of the studies, from design to report.
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inserm-00563191 , version 1 (04-02-2011)

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Gilles Hejblum, Michel Setbon, Laura Temime, Sophie Lesieur, Alain-Jacques Valleron. Modelers' Perception of Mathematical Modeling in Epidemiology: A Web-Based Survey: Mathematical Modeling in Epidemiology. PLoS ONE, 2011, 6 (1), pp.e16531. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0016531⟩. ⟨inserm-00563191⟩
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