Complexity in mathematical models of public health policies: a guide for consumers of models

PLoS Med. 2013 Oct;10(10):e1001540. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001540. Epub 2013 Oct 29.


Sanjay Basu and colleagues explain how models are increasingly used to inform public health policy yet readers may struggle to evaluate the quality of models. All models require simplifying assumptions, and there are tradeoffs between creating models that are more "realistic" versus those that are grounded in more solid data. Indeed, complex models are not necessarily more accurate or reliable simply because they can more easily fit real-world data than simpler models can. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

MeSH terms

  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence

Grants and funding

No funding was received for this manuscript.