CCHE Seminar Series: How do Policymakers and Modelers Consider the Social Determinants of Health in COVID-19 Models?

How do Policymakers and Modelers Consider the Social Determinants of Health in COVID-19 Models?

Ava John-Baptiste, Shehzad Ali, and Daniel Eisenkraft Klein

Friday January 27, 2022, 10am-12pm, via Zoom

Abstract: Infectious disease models have played a pivotal role in informing policy decisions at all levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet most infectious disease models, particularly those developed in the early phase of the pandemic, were based using a population-averaged approach which assumes homogeneity of risk, human behaviour, access to services, health outcomes and policy response. This happened despite the large body of evidence showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected racial minorities, disadvantaged socioeconomic groups, and the elderly, both through its unequal health burden and disparity of economic  losses.

In this context, this study sought to answer:

  • How did decision-makers and modelers perceive the need to include social determinants of health (SDOH)?
  • What were their key considerations?
  • What challenges did they face?
  • What facilitators enabled incorporation of the SDOH?

This research was generously funded by a research grant from the Society for Medical Decision Making.

Dr. Ava John-Baptiste is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine, and the Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health. Dr. John-Baptiste uses the methods of systematic review, evidence synthesis, cost analysis, economic evaluation, decision modeling and the linkage and analysis of administrative and clinical databases to inform health policy decisions. Her research interests include economic evaluation of public health and community-based interventions, and interventions to improve social determinants of health and promote health equity.

Dr. Shehzad Ali holds a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Economics at Western University. He also holds adjunct positions at University of York (UK), Macquarie University (Australia) and the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH). He was previously the Health Economics Lead at the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). With grants funded in Canada, UK, Australia and US, his research focuses on four areas: (1) Economic evaluation of public health policies and health care technologies, using decision models, observational studies and randomized trials; (2) Health system performance evaluation in terms of efficiency and equity of access, utilization and patient outcomes using patient-level linked administrative data (“big data”) and population surveys; (3) Elicitation of public value judgments using equity-efficiency trade-off experiments, to inform resource allocation decisions; and (4) Developing statistical algorithms to predict health outcomes in clinical practice. More recently, he has become interested in equity considerations in infectious disease models.

Daniel Eisenkraft Klein is a doctoral candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto, and a CCHE Fellow. He is also a Sessional Lecturer at Simon Fraser University, and serves as an Expert Consultant for Johns Hopkins University’s Opioid Industry Documents Archive. His research interests centre on the commercial determinants of health, with a special interest in how they shape the policymaking process. This includes primary research on pharmaceutical marketing, medical education, and advocacy group sponsorship.