Value of Information Analysis in Environmental Health Risk Management Decisions: Past, Present, and Future
Experts agree that value of information (VOI) analyses provide useful insights in risk management decisions. However, applications in environmental health risk management (EHRM) remain largely demonstrative thus far because of the complexity in modeling and solving VOI problems. Based on this comprehensive review of all VOI applications published in the peer-reviewed literature of such applications, the complexity of solving VOI problems with continuous probability distributions as inputs in models emerges as the main barrier to greater use of VOI although simulation allows analysts to solve more complex and realistic problems. Several analytical challenges that inhibit greater use of VOI techniques include issues related to modeling decisions, valuing outcomes, and characterizing uncertain and variable model inputs appropriately. This comprehensive review of methods for modeling and solving VOI problems for applications related to EHRM provides the first synthesis of important methodological advances in the field. The insights provide risk analysts and decision scientists with some guidance on how to structure and solve VOI problems focused on evaluating opportunities to collect better information to improve EHRM decisions. They further suggest the need for some efforts to standardize approaches and develop some prescriptive guidance for VOI analysts similar to existing guidelines for conducting cost-effectiveness analyses.