BRENNAN healthsystems LAB
My current research focuses on how technical models are conveyed to non-technical decision makers.
While people often view formal models as useful tools for systematic analysis to support informed decision making, creating formal models does not necessarily produce informed decision making. A body of work from the past forty years describes a disconnect between the tools produced through systematic analysis and what decision makers desire in order to address a problem. This disconnect may make these tools unusable, or may severely limit their usefulness to the decision maker.
Significant empirical work has gone into examining and improving the ability of models to represent a particular reference system and how a decision maker would ideally behave in a given situation. By contrast, there is a lack of empirical work examining how decision makers understand and use models. To participate fully in the decision making process, lay decision makers need to understand the presentation or conveyance, by the analyst, of the formal model that they are using to support their decision. This understanding is important because the analyst's presentation serves as the gateway to how a decision maker understands and uses a model. If decision makers can effectively understand a model presentation, they may be able to more appropriately critique and use the underlying model.
Despite the need for decision makers to better understand the models that they use, via effective model presentations, no guidelines openly exist to aid analysts in conveying existing and newly developed models to relevant decision makers. Without such guidelines, analysts may create and refine models without understanding how their models are received or used.
My research aims to characterize the factors that produce this disconnect between analytic models and what decision makers desire to address a problem. Based on this set of factors, my research also seeks to compose guidelines for analysts to use when conveying technical models to non-technical decision makers.