Internal consistency of a synthetic population construction method for chronic disease micro-simulation models

René Kooiker, Hendriek C. Boshuizen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background Micro-simulation models of risk-factors and chronic diseases are built increasingly often, and each model starts with an initial population. Constructing such populations when no survey data covering all variables are available is no trivial task, often requiring complex methods based on several (untested) assumptions. In this paper, we propose a method for evaluating the merits of construction methods, and apply this to one specific method: the construction method used in the DYNAMO-HIA model. Methods The initial population constructed using the DYNAMO-HIA method is compared to another population constructed by starting a simulation with only newborns and simulating the course taken by one risk-factor and several diseases. In this simulation, the age- and sex-specific prevalence of the risk-factor is kept constant over time. Results Our simulations show that, in general, the DYNAMO-HIA method clearly outperforms a method that assumes independence of the risk-factor and the prevalence of diseases and independence between all diseases. In many situations the DYNAMO-HIA method performs reasonably well, but in some the proportion with the risk-factor for those with a disease is under- or overestimated by as much as 10 percentage points. For determining comorbidity between diseases linked by a common causal disease or a common risk-factor it also performs reasonably well. However, the current method performs poorly for determining the comorbidity between one disease caused by the other. Conclusion The DYNAMO-HIA methods perform reasonably well; they outperform a baseline assumption of independence between the risk-factor and diseases in the initial population. The method for determining the comorbidity between diseases that are causally linked needs improvement. Given the existing discrepancies for situations with high relative risks, however, developing more elaborate methods based on running simulation models to generate an initial population would be worthwhile.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0205225
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


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