An Overview of R in Health Decision Sciences

Med Decis Making. 2017 Oct;37(7):735-746. doi: 10.1177/0272989X16686559. Epub 2017 Jan 6.


As the complexity of health decision science applications increases, high-level programming languages are increasingly adopted for statistical analyses and numerical computations. These programming languages facilitate sophisticated modeling, model documentation, and analysis reproducibility. Among the high-level programming languages, the statistical programming framework R is gaining increased recognition. R is freely available, cross-platform compatible, and open source. A large community of users who have generated an extensive collection of well-documented packages and functions supports it. These functions facilitate applications of health decision science methodology as well as the visualization and communication of results. Although R's popularity is increasing among health decision scientists, methodological extensions of R in the field of decision analysis remain isolated. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of existing R functionality that is applicable to the various stages of decision analysis, including model design, input parameter estimation, and analysis of model outputs.

Keywords: R project; cost-effectiveness analysis; economic evaluation; literature review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Statistical
  • Programming Languages*
  • Software*