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BMC Public Health

, 14:376

Biostatistics and methods


BackgroundMass media is used to inform individuals regarding diseases within a population. The effects of mass media during disease outbreaks have been studied in the mathematical modelling literature, by including ‘media functions’ that affect transmission rates in mathematical epidemiological models. The choice of function to employ, however, varies, and thus, epidemic outcomes that are important to inform public health may be affected.

MethodsWe present a survey of the disease modelling literature with the effects of mass media. We present a comparison of the functions employed and compare epidemic results parameterized for an influenza outbreak. An agent-based Monte Carlo simulation is created to access variability around key epidemic measurements, and a sensitivity analysis is completed in order to gain insight into which model parameters have the largest influence on epidemic outcomes.

ResultsEpidemic outcome depends on the media function chosen. Parameters that most influence key epidemic outcomes are different for each media function.

ConclusionDifferent functions used to represent the effects of media during an epidemic will affect the outcomes of a disease model, including the variability in key epidemic measurements. Thus, media functions may not best represent the effects of media during an epidemic. A new method for modelling the effects of media needs to be considered.

KeywordsMass media Epidemic Influenza Agent-based Monte Carlo simulation Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2458-14-376 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Shannon Collinson - Jane M Heffernan


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