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Accounting for uncertainty in health economic decision models by using model averaging

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Health economic decision models are subject to considerable uncertainty, much of which arises from choices between several plausible model structures, e.g. choices of covariates in a regression model. Such structural uncertainty is rarely accounted for formally in decision models but can be addressed by model averaging. We discuss the most common methods of averaging models and the principles underlying them. We apply them to a comparison of two surgical techniques for repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms. In model averaging, competing models are usually either weighted by using an asymptotically consistent model assessment criterion, such as the Bayesian information criterion, or a measure of predictive ability, such as Akaike's information criterion. We argue that the predictive approach is more suitable when modelling the complex underlying processes of interest in health economics, such as individual disease progression and response to treatment.

Keywords: Akaike's information criterion; Bayesian information criterion; Health economics; Model averaging; Model uncertainty

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge,UK

Publication date: April 1, 2009


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