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The half-life of truth: What are appropriate time horizons for research decisions?

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JournalMedical Decision Making
DatePublished - May 2008
Issue number3
Volume28
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)287-299
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose. To evaluate alternative approaches taken to estimate the population that could benefit from research and to demonstrate that explicitly modeling future change leads to more appropriate estimates of the expected value of information (EVI). Methods. Existing approaches to estimating the population typically focus on the time horizon for decisions, employing seemingly arbitrary estimates of the appropriate horizon. These approaches implicitly use the time horizon as a proxy for future changes in technologies, prices, and information. Different approaches to quantifying the time horizon are explored, in the context of a stylized model, to demonstrate the impact Of uncertainty in this estimate on EVI. An alternative approach is developed that explicitly models future changes in technologies, prices, and information and that demonstrates the impact on EVI estimates. Results. Explicitly modeling future changes means that the EVI for the decision problem may increase or decrease over time, but the EVI for the group of parameters that can be evaluated by current research tends to decline. The finite and infinite time horizons for the decision problem represent special cases (e.g., price shock OF no changes, respectively). This type of analysis can be used to inform policy decisions relating to the timing of research. Conclusions. The value of information depends on future changes in technologies, prices, and evidence. Finite time horizons for decision problems can be seen as a proxy for the complex and uncertain process of future change. A more explicit approach to modeling these changes could provide a more appropriate basis for calculating EVI, but this raises a number of significant methodological and technical challenges.

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M1 - 3

    Research areas

  • value of information, priority setting, research decisions, COST-EFFECTIVENESS ANALYSIS, EXPECTED VALUE, INFORMATION ANALYSIS, RISK MANAGEMENT, HEALTH-CARE, UNCERTAINTY, TECHNOLOGY

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