Key Parameters in Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Authored by: Laura F. White

Handbook of Infectious Disease Data Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138626713
eBook ISBN: 9781315222912
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/9781315222912-5

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Abstract

Evidence-based knowledge of infectious disease burden, including prevalence, incidence, severity, and transmission, in different population strata and locations, and possibly in real time, is crucial to the planning and evaluation of public health policies. Direct observation of a disease process is rarely possible. However, latent characteristics of an epidemic and its evolution often can be inferred from the synthesis of indirect information from various routine data sources, as well as expert opinion. The simultaneous synthesis of multiple data sources, often conveniently carried out in a Bayesian framework, poses a number of statistical and computational challenges: the heterogeneity in type, relevance, and granularity of the data, together with selection and informative observation biases, lead to complex probabilistic models that are difficult to build and fit and challenging to criticize. Using motivating case studies of influenza, this chapter illustrates the cycle of model development and criticism in the context of Bayesian evidence synthesis, highlighting the challenges of complex model building, computationally efficient inference, and conflicting evidence.

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