238944 Modeling individuals: Agent-based approaches

Saturday, October 29, 2011: 10:45 AM

Eric Lofgren, MSPH , Department of Epidemiology, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Washington, DC
Many mathematical models assume that everyone reacts in the same way to a disease, ignoring differences in personality, risk assessment, or personal choice. This assumption exists in stark contrast to many of the concerns in public health planning: will doctors, nurses and other medical professionals carry out their professional responsibilities during an epidemic, or will they stay home? How can we encourage individuals to isolate themselves, rather than going to work, to prevent the spread of flu? Why do some parents refuse to vaccinate their children, and what impact does this have on childhood diseases?

Agent-based models try to address these questions by modeling the population as a collection of individuals ("agents"), each with their own behaviors, biology and movement patterns. The use of these models to examine questions of behavior using the zombie outbreak example will be discussed, as will applications to real-world questions like outbreak interventions or school-closure strategies.

Learning Areas:
Basic medical science applied in public health
Other professions or practice related to public health
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe an agent-based model. 2. Explain the differences between an agent-based model, and a network or compartmental model. 3. Identify agent parameters of particular relevance to the learner's research interests.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present the proposed topic because I have previously presented on the topic of using zombie outbreaks to teach infectious disease modeling at previous (2010) APHA conferences. I also have extensive experience with epidemiological modeling, and have extensively published on applications of popular culture to mathematical modeling.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.