2022 journal article

Use of Modeling to Inform Decision Making in North Carolina during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

MDM Policy & Practice.

Source: ORCID
Added: July 30, 2022

Background. The COVID-19 pandemic has popularized computer-based decision-support models, which are commonly used to inform decision making amidst complexity. Understanding what organizational decision makers prefer from these models is needed to inform model development during this and future crises. Methods. We recruited and interviewed decision makers from North Carolina across 9 sectors to understand organizational decision-making processes during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic ( N = 44). For this study, we identified and analyzed a subset of responses from interviewees ( n = 19) who reported using modeling to inform decision making. We used conventional content analysis to analyze themes from this convenience sample with respect to the source of models and their applications, the value of modeling and recommended applications, and hesitancies toward the use of models. Results. Models were used to compare trends in disease spread across localities, estimate the effects of social distancing policies, and allocate scarce resources, with some interviewees depending on multiple models. Decision makers desired more granular models, capable of projecting disease spread within subpopulations and estimating where local outbreaks could occur, and incorporating a broad set of outcomes, such as social well-being. Hesitancies to the use of modeling included doubts that models could reflect nuances of human behavior, concerns about the quality of data used in models, and the limited amount of modeling specific to the local context. Conclusions. Decision makers perceived modeling as valuable for informing organizational decisions yet described varied ability and willingness to use models for this purpose. These data present an opportunity to educate organizational decision makers on the merits of decision-support modeling and to inform modeling teams on how to build more responsive models that address the needs of organizational decision makers.