Formal decision-analytic methods can be used to frame disease control problems, the first step of which is to define a clear and specific objective. We demonstrate the imperative of framing clearly-defined management objectives in finding optimal control actions for control of disease outbreaks. We illustrate an analysis that can be applied rapidly at the start of an outbreak when there are multiple stakeholders involved with potentially multiple objectives, and when there are also multiple disease models upon which to compare control actions. The output of our analysis frames subsequent discourse between policy-makers, modellers and other stakeholders, by highlighting areas of discord among different management objectives and also among different models used in the analysis. We illustrate this approach in the context of a hypothetical foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Cumbria, UK using outputs from five rigorously-studied simulation models of FMD spread. We present both relative rankings and relative performance of controls within each model and across a range of objectives. Results illustrate how control actions change across both the base metric used to measure management success and across the statistic used to rank control actions according to said metric. This work represents a first step towards reconciling the extensive modelling work on disease control problems with frameworks for structured decision making.
- Decision making
- Foot-and-mouth disease