What is Decision Science?
Decision Science is the collection of quantitative techniques used to inform decision-making at the individual and population levels. It include decision analysis, risk analysis, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, constrained optimization, simulation modeling, and behavioral decision theory, as well as parts of operations research, microeconomics, statistical inference, management control, cognitive and social psychology, and computer science. By focusing on decisions as the unit of analysis, decision science provides a unique framework for understanding public health problems, and for improving policies to address those problems.
How is decision science different from other research approaches?
While most fields of research focus on producing new knowledge, decision science is uniquely concerned with making optimal choices based on available information. Decision science seeks to make plain the scientific issues and value judgments underlying these decisions, and to identify tradeoffs that might accompany any particular action or inaction.
What kinds of tools and methods do decision scientists use?
Decision science utilizes a variety of tools which include models for decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, experimental and descriptive studies of decision-making behavior, economic analysis of competitive and strategic decisions, approaches for facilitating decision-making by groups, and mathematical modeling techniques.
Where is decision science used?
Decision science has been used in business and management, law and education, environmental regulation, military science, public health and public policy. CHDS uses decision analytic methods to inform policies and practices that improve population health by systematically integrating scientific evidence with explicit consideration of individual and societal values for outcomes such as mortality, quality of life, and costs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is risk analysis?
Risk analysis is important because the public is increasingly concerned about how their health is impacted by environmental hazards such as chemicals, pollution, and food-borne disease. This increased awareness has repercussions for governments, health organizations, and private companies, all of which have a stake in protecting public health. Private corporations need to be able to understand and address the impact of their operations and products on consumers to ensure they are not harming public health. Risk analysis skills are equally important to public health agencies, as they must be able to review risk assessments conducted by industry or other agencies, interpret their findings, and prioritize governmental response to public health hazards. Learn more at the Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
What is cost-effectiveness analysis?
What is benefit-cost analysis?
What is operations research?