Sunday, October 23, 2016: 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Oak 2, Second Floor (Westin Bayshore Vancouver)
Course Type: Half Day
Course Level: Beginner

Overview: This workshop will provide participants with a basic overview on a variety of decision theory topics in fun, intuitive, and clinically relevant ways. It is meant for a beginner audience with no formal training in decision theory. The emphasis will be on gaining intuition and a comfort with important decision science topics like expected value of clinical information, the value of a statistical life, and decision-making under uncertainty. The course will use lecture to introduce topics as well as hands-on activities and clinical case studies to connect theory with practice.

Background: Decision theory topics can be abstract and difficult to understand. Although theory underlies clinical decision science research, it is not always apparent how the underlying frameworks influence our results. This course will enhance a clinician or researcherís literacy on decisions theory topics and connect theory with real world examples. The aim will be to illustrate not only how theory is applied in practice, but also how underlying assumptions and frameworks can influence results.

Format Requirements: This introductory workshop will use lecture, case studies, and hands-on exercises. There are no prerequisites for this course. We will cover several topics; each with a similar approach, progressing from lecture to participation-based activities using clinical case studies once the class is comfortable with a topic.

Description and Objectives:

This workshop will provide participants with a basic overview of several decision theory topics and relate theory to practice in the context of health system research. The broad theory topics that we will introduce from a theory and practice perspective are expected value of information, the value of a statistical life, and decision-making under uncertainty.  In support of these concepts, additional topics that may be discussed at a superficial level include risk aversion, anchoring, discounting, and utility theory.  The formal notation that can succinctly and precisely communicate decision theory will be included in the lecture, while we will primarily emphasize the concepts through visualizations and real world examples. The course will include lecture and exercise components. We will challenge participants to apply the theoretical concepts to clinical examples through hands-on exercises.  This course is meant to be fun and intuitive and will help participant’s discuss the theory that underlies their research.

By the end of this course participants will:

  • Develop intuition on a range of decision theory concepts
  • Gain an ability to discuss and describe decision theory topics and how they relate to a participant’s research agenda
  • Understand how decision theory influences practical applications in clinical settings including implied assumptions and limitations to theoretical frameworks
Course Director:

Katherine Lofgren, MPH
Harvard University
PhD Student

Katherine is a PhD student in Health Policy within the Decision Science track at Harvard University. Before the PhD, Katherine worked at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimating under-5 mortality and vital registration completeness.

Course Faculty:

Ankur Pandya, PhD
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Assistant Professor of Health Decision Science