Bayesian Methods Can Help To Bring Science Closer To Policy

Nijmegen, The Netherlands – A gap often exists between the questions that policy-makers face and the answers that science provides. Typically, science offers bits and pieces of information that are, at best, partially relevant to the policy problem under consideration.
Scholars at Radboud University Medical Centre, together with staff of the National Health Insurance Board (CVZ) reanalyzed available evidence from various sources using a Bayesian model to produce answers to policy-relevant questions regarding HPV vaccination. By reorganizing and synthesizing different pieces of evidence into a single Bayesian model, they were able to formulate a clear answer to the question, “What is the effectiveness of HPV-vaccination in the open population?”

Effectiveness data from Randomized Controlled Trials for a number of different populations, none of which is directly comparable to the targeted population, were reorganized and combined with data on to actual HPV-prevalence in the relevant population. The authors found an estimate for the real-life vaccine effectiveness of 27%, and the probability that the actual effectiveness exceeds 50% is virtually zero.

Willem Woertman, PhD, lead author on the study states, “Policy-makers want to know how likely it is that novel programs will bring important benefits to society. A Bayesian analysis provides just that, while making optimal use of all the available evidence.”

The complete study is detailed in the paper, Estimating the Effectiveness of HPV Vaccination in the Open Population: A Bayesian Approach,” published in Value in Health.


Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as policy papers to help health care leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal is published bi-monthly and has over 8,000 subscribers (clinicians, decision makers, and researchers worldwide).

International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

For more information: www.ispor.org

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