Representation and analysis of medical decision problems with influence diagrams

  • Owens D
  • Shachter R
  • Nease Jr. R
  • 4


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A


    Citations of this article.


Influence diagrams are a powerful graphic representation for decision models, complementary to decision trees. Influence diagrams and decision trees are different graphic representations for the same underlying mathematical model and operations. This article describes the elements of an influence diagram, and shows several familiar decision problems represented as decision trees and as influence diagrams. The authors also contrast the information highlighted in each graphic representation, demonstrate how to calculate the expected utilities of decision alternatives modeled with an influence diagram, provide an overview of the conceptual basis of the solution algorithms that have been developed for influence diagrams, discuss the strengths and limitations of influence diagrams relative to decision trees, and describe the mathematical operations that are used to evaluate both decision trees and influence diagrams. They use clinical examples to illustrate the mathematical operations of the influence-diagram-evaluation algorithm; these operations are arc reversal, chance node removal by averaging, and decision node removal by policy determination. Influence diagrams may be helpful when problems have a high degree of conditional independence, when large models are needed, when communication of the probabilistic relationships is important, or when the analysis requires extensive Bayesian updating. The choice of graphic representation should be governed by convenience, and will depend on the problem being analyzed, on the experience of the analyst, and on the background of the consumers of the analysis.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Algorithms
  • *Decision Support Techniques
  • *Decision Trees
  • *Diagnosis
  • *Therapeutics
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections/diagnosis/dr
  • Adult
  • Computer Graphics
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/diagnosis/drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis/diagnosis/drug therapy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • D K Owens

  • R D Shachter

  • R F Nease Jr.

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free