Microsimulation models on mental health: a critical review of the literature

Claire de Oliveira*, Maria Ana Matias, Rowena Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To retrieve and synthesise the literature on existing mental health-specific microsimulation models or generic microsimulation models used to examine mental health, and to critically appraise them.

METHODS: All studies on microsimulation and mental health published in English in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and EconLit between January 1, 2010, and September 30, 2022, were considered. Snowballing, Google searches and searches on specific journal websites were also undertaken. Data extraction was done on all studies retrieved and the reporting quality of each model was assessed using the Quality Assessment Reporting for Microsimulation Models checklist, a checklist developed by the research team. A narrative synthesis approach was used to synthesise the evidence.

RESULTS: Among 227 potential hits, 19 studies were found to be relevant. Some studies covered existing economic-demographic models, which included a component on mental health and were used to answer mental health-related research questions. Other studies were focused solely on mental health and included models that were developed to examine the impact of specific policies and/or interventions on specific mental disorders. Most models examined were of medium quality. The main limitations included the use of model inputs based on self-reported and/or cross-sectional data, small and/or non-representative samples and simplifying assumptions, and lack of model validation.

CONCLUSIONS: This review found few high-quality microsimulation models on mental health. Microsimulation models developed specifically to examine mental health are important to guide health care delivery and service planning. Future research should focus on developing high-quality mental health-specific microsimulation models with wide applicability and multiple functionalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-246
Number of pages21
JournalValue in Health
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2023 International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • mental disorders
  • mental health
  • mental illness
  • microsimulation
  • review
  • simulation

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