Best practices in ranking communicable disease threats: A literature review, 2015

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The threat of serious, cross-border communicable disease outbreaks in Europe poses a significant challenge to public health and emergency preparedness because the relative likelihood of these threats and the pathogens involved are constantly shifting in response to a range of changing disease drivers. To inform strategic planning by enabling effective resource allocation to manage the consequences of communicable disease outbreaks, it is useful to be able to rank and prioritise pathogens. This paper reports on a literature review which identifies and evaluates the range of methods used for risk ranking. Searches were performed across biomedical and grey literature databases, supplemented by reference harvesting and citation tracking. Studies were selected using transparent inclusion criteria and underwent quality appraisal using a bespoke checklist based on the AGREE II criteria. Seventeen studies were included in the review, covering five methodologies. A narrative analysis of the selected studies suggests that no single methodology was superior. However, many of the methods shared common components, around which a ‘best-practice’ framework was formulated. This approach is intended to help inform decision makers’ choice of an appropriate risk-ranking study design.




O’Brien, E. C., Taft, R., Geary, K., Ciotti, M., & Suk, J. E. (2016, April 28). Best practices in ranking communicable disease threats: A literature review, 2015. Eurosurveillance. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

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