New epidemic forecast model could save precious resources

July 02, 2019

When governments and institutions deploy epidemic forecast models when facing an outbreak, they sometimes fail to factor in human behavior and over-allocate precious resources as a result. Thanks to new research authored by a Texas A&M University engineering professor, that may no longer be the case.

Dr. Ceyhun Eksin, lead author and assistant professor in the Texas A&M Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and his colleagues at the University of California Santa Barbara and the Georgia Institute of Technology have published an article in the journal Epidemics that focuses on incorporating behavior change criteria into disease outbreak models.

Adding these criteria will allow professionals and communities to mobilize adequate resources during epidemic outbreaks and reduce public mistrust caused by the overallocation of resources.

"Our goal was to adapt these findings to forecast the disease trajectory, even if the initial information the model received was inaccurate," Eksin said. "The findings show there is value to incorporating a behavior aspect into forecast models."

A modified SIR model

The current models used to predict the impact of an outbreak, called simple susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) models, do not take the changes in an individual's behavior into account and can over predict the number of infected individuals during an outbreak. This can lead to an overuse of resources.

The research team hypothesized that individuals would take action during an outbreak to reduce their exposure by avoiding infected individuals and as a result would change the number of individuals infected during the outbreak. To put this idea to the test, the researchers created a modified SIR model that included the ability to pick up a change in an individual's behavior.

By testing their modified model against the simple SIR model, Eksin and his colleagues were able to show that the modified model more accurately predicted outbreak numbers. By inputting past outbreak data into the modified models, they were able to predict the number of infected individuals more accurately.

Putting resources to better use

Predicting the number of individuals who will become infected during an outbreak is valuable to determine how to use limited resources, and interdisciplinary research can help understand the link between a public health response and behavior change. If a community is better able to plan for an outbreak, without over-preparing, it can save resources and reduce the possibility of losing public support during future outbreaks.
-end-


Texas A&M University

Related Behavior Articles from Brightsurf:

Variety in the migratory behavior of blackcaps
The birds have variable migration strategies.

Fishing for a theory of emergent behavior
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba quantified the collective action of small schools of fish using information theory.

How synaptic changes translate to behavior changes
Learning changes behavior by altering many connections between brain cells in a variety of ways all at the same time, according to a study of sea slugs recently published in JNeurosci.

I won't have what he's having: The brain and socially motivated behavior
Monkeys devalue rewards when they anticipate that another monkey will get them instead.

Unlocking animal behavior through motion
Using physics to study different types of animal motion, such as burrowing worms or flying flocks, can reveal how animals behave in different settings.

AI to help monitor behavior
Algorithms based on artificial intelligence do better at supporting educational and clinical decision-making, according to a new study.

Increasing opportunities for sustainable behavior
To mitigate climate change and safeguard ecosystems, we need to make drastic changes in our consumption and transport behaviors.

Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new way to predict a protein's interactions with other proteins and biomolecules, and its biochemical activity, merely by observing its surface.

Spirituality affects the behavior of mortgagers
According to Olga Miroshnichenko, a Sc.D in Economics, and a Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance, Tyumen State University, morals affect the thinking of mortgage payers and help them avoid past due payments.

Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis
One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Read More: Behavior News and Behavior Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.