Moving interdisciplinary science forward: integrating participatory modelling with mathematical modelling of zoonotic disease in Africa
Infectious Diseases of Poverty, February 2016
Grant, Catherine, Lo Iacono, Giovanni, Dzingirai, Vupenyu, Bett, Bernard, Winnebah, Thomas R. A., Atkinson, Peter M.
This review outlines the benefits of using multiple approaches to improve model design and facilitate multidisciplinary research into infectious diseases, as well as showing and proposing practical examples of effective integration. It looks particularly at the benefits of using participatory research in conjunction with traditional modelling methods to potentially improve disease research, control and management. Integrated approaches can lead to more realistic mathematical models which in turn can assist with making policy decisions that reduce disease and benefit local people. The emergence, risk, spread and control of diseases are affected by many complex bio-physical, environmental and socio-economic factors. These include climate and environmental change, land-use variation, changes in population and people's behaviour. The evidence base for this scoping review comes from the work of a consortium, with the aim of integrating modelling approaches traditionally used in epidemiological, ecological and development research. A total of five examples of the impacts of participatory research on the choice of model structure are presented. Example 1 focused on using participatory research as a tool to structure a model. Example 2 looks at identifying the most relevant parameters of the system. Example 3 concentrates on identifying the most relevant regime of the system (e.g., temporal stability or otherwise), Example 4 examines the feedbacks from mathematical models to guide participatory research and Example 5 goes beyond the so-far described two-way interplay between participatory and mathematical approaches to look at the integration of multiple methods and frameworks. This scoping review describes examples of best practice in the use of participatory methods, illustrating their potential to overcome disciplinary hurdles and promote multidisciplinary collaboration, with the aim of making models and their predictions more useful for decision-making and policy formulation.
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