2012 seminars

Professor John Lynch

Complex policy and practice questions require complex evidence integration - the case of early child health and development in Australia

Professor John Lynch, Professor of Public Health, NHMRC Australia Fellow, Discipline of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Adelaide
Monday 29th October 2012

There is mounting evidence from a variety of disciplines supporting the importance of experiences and exposures in early life on child health and development, as well as their effects on trajectories of human capability formation over the life course. What is not clear is how best to translate this array of often fragmented evidence into integrated policies, practices and service provision. This seminar will examine some of this evidence from a population health perspective, describe the work we are undertaking in gathering and translating evidence in the Australian context, and suggest some priorities for future research

Professor Lynch teaches Public Health at the University of Adelaide. He is also visiting professor of epidemiology at University of Bristol (UK). He was previously in the department of epidemiology at the University of Michigan and was a Canada Research Chair in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University in Montreal. In mid 2008 he returned to Australia and took up an appointment at University of South Australia.
He is an internationally recognized scholar in epidemiology and public health with more than 200 publications. In 2007 his work in public health was recognized with an honorary Doctorate in Medical Science from the University of Copenhagen. In 2009 he was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Australia Fellowship.
His research interests include early childhood development, life course processes regulating health behaviours and human capability formation, population health information systems, evidence-based public health and improving the public health research-policy nexus.

Professor David Gough

Meta-evaluation: the 'evaluation of evaluations'

Professor David Gough, Professor of Evidence Informed Policy and Practice and the Director of the Social Science Research Unit and the EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education, University of London
Thursday 4th October 2012

The term 'meta-evaluation' was coined more than forty years ago by Michael Scriven. In simple terms, meta-evaluation means the 'evaluation of evaluations'. It has at least three meanings. First, the conceptual and methodological assessment of the role of evaluation; the evaluation of the nature and purpose of evaluation. Second, the evaluation of the quality of evaluation studies as either a formative or summative process. Third, the synthesis of the findings of individual studies to answer an evaluation research question; either an evaluation of many incidents of a similar evaluation or the evaluation of the sub-components of one large event. The seminar will discuss the three main meanings of the term meta-evaluation with special reference to the meta-evaluation of the social impact of the 'mega event' of the London 2012 Olympics.

David Gough is Professor of Evidence Informed Policy and Practice and Director of Social Science Research Unit and its EPPI-Centre at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is Managing Editor of the journal Evidence and Policy and consultant to an ESRC project on meta-evaluation. His most recent publication is: Gough D, Thomas J, Oliver S (2012). Clarifying differences between review designs and methods, Systematic Reviews, 1:28. A pre publication draft is downloadable from: http://www.systematicreviewsjournal.com/content/1/1/28/abstract

Discrete-event simulation in secondary health care: an ED case study

Alex Poor- Business Analyst – HealthShare; Claire Forsythe Business Analyst – Waikato DHB. September 14 2012

In this presentation we discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of using discrete-event simulation to inform operations management in the health sector. Set in a large tertiary referral hospital in New Zealand, we constructed a simulation model of the busy Emergency Department. Many issues were encountered – from the highly variable quality and availability of relevant data, to the conceptual conflict between clinicians and analysts on how far process-based methodologies can be applied to an acute health care process. A detailed overview of model construction, and analysis of results, is presented.

Professor John MacInnes

Tackling the generic deficit of quantitative methods in UK Social Science

Professor John MacInnes. ESRC Strategic Advisor on Quantitative Methods Training , School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
19 July 2012

Quantitative methods, or social statistics, have (outside of economics, and to some extent, psychology) suffered dreadful neglect in the UK from the 1970s onwards. Only a minority of social scientists are competent in even the most basic methods, and both the standard and extent of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in them is (with some laudable exceptions) poor. A number of reasons exists for this situation, including the legacy of the way theory has developed in the social sciences, hostility to what was often perceived to be empiricism or positivism, and inattention to methodology as opposed to advocacy. One result has been the cession of ever more ground to economists in policy analysis and debate.

Turning this situation round is difficult but possible. Some of the same technological developments that make quantitative methods more relevant (the explosion of data produced by new methods of electronic capture, processing and distribution) also make them easier, and more engaging to teach. However this will also mean universities and their funders making the right decisions about resource priorities

Speaker Bio
Professor Macinnes teaches Sociology, at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. His research interests include social demography, especially fertility; the family and the labour market; Work-life balance; Sociology of Gender especially masculinity; Sociology of national identity, especially stateless nationalism, comparisons between Scotland and Catalonia, and the role of the mass media. He also has an interest in promoting the use of quantitative methods and evidence in social science. Since 2009 he has been a Strategic Advisor to the ESRC on QM Training.

The Australian Data Archive - preserving the past for access in the future

Dr Steve McEachern, Deputy Director of ASDA, Australian National University
29 March 2012

The identification of increasingly varied forms of research data are providing new challenges for data archives around the world. The preservation of new and unusual data formats, beyond the traditional quantitative survey file, have required developments from data archives to support new forms of discovery, analysis and visualisation to support this content. The Australian Data Archive (ADA) have been engaged in the development of new tools and services to support such data, including services for data ingest, archival storage and user dissemination and discovery systems based on the DDI metadata standard. This presentation will provide an overview of ADA's structure and activities, a demonstration of our data ingest and visualisation tools, and challenges for the future in expanding support for research data archiving across disciplines, data types and geographic locations.

Forecasting the future burden of disability through changing patterns of disease: the SIMPOP model

Professor Carol Jagger
May 16 2012

Major causes of disability in later life are known to be the consequences of both acute and chronic diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease (CHD), arthritis, and dementia. Projections of the numbers of disabled older people and their need for long-term care have rarely taken into account the considerable temporal changes in these diseases that have occurred and will occur in the future due to higher levels of obesity and inactivity.

As part of a wider project modelling ageing populations to 2030 (MAP2030) a dynamic macro-simulation model (SIMPOP) has being developed to estimate future numbers of older people with disability and years lived with disability over the next 20 years under a number of disease scenarios. Data from the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study, a nationally representative sample of people aged 65 years and over was used to estimate transition rates to disability and death conditional on a range of diseases and conditions present at baseline. These transition rates were used with the 1992 England and Wales population to simulate the new numbers with and without disability to 2030. A series of scenarios for trends in incidence, risk factors and treatment for stroke, coronary heart disease (CHD), arthritis, and dementia were devised from systematic reviews and these were applied to the simulation model. More general scenarios of improved and poorer population health were also applied.

The seminar will introduce the MAP2030 project as a whole and the design of SIMPOP. Comparisons of the size of the disabled older population under the different health scenarios will be shown as well as disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) which alongside life expectancy provides opportunities to assess how large interventions need to be to produce compressions of disability.

Carol Jagger is the AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing in the Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/iah/). Her research spans demography and epidemiology with a focus on mental and physical functioning in ageing and her current research program has three themes: Understanding variations in Healthy Active Life Expectancy; Disability and Functioning in Later Life; and Ageing Population Projections for Policy. She has been involved in the design or used the data of most of the major UK cohort studies of ageing, in particular the Melton Mowbray studies and more recently the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (http://www.cfas.ac.uk/) and the MRC Newcastle 85+ study (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/iah/research/programmes/85plus.htm). Within Europe she sits on the Steering Group of the European Health Survey System and the Task Force on Disability Surveys and has recently been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Joint Programming Initiative ‘More Years, Better Lives’. Nationally she has advised the Office of National Statistics and the Scottish Public Health Observatory on Healthy Life Expectancy and has provided evidence on this to the government Works and Pensions Committee, the Health Committee and the Scottish Finance Committee. She is an active member of the Actuarial Profession Mortality Research Committee and the Alzheimer’s Society Public Health Steering Group. Recent grants include: the FUTURAGE project (see http://futurage.group.shef.ac.uk/) which created the roadmap for ageing research in Europe for the next 10-15 years with Carol leading the Healthy Ageing and Wellbeing theme; and Inequalities in Healthy Active Life Expectancy: The role of time, place, person and methods (InHALE) for which she is principal investigator. Carol is a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.

Assessing socio-economic status through occupation - An update of the New Zealand Socioeconomic Index (NZSEI)

Dr Barry Milne
16 May 2012

The assessment of socio-economic position (SEP) has a wide range of uses in health and social science research and in resource allocation. I will describe the development of the New Zealand Socioeconomic Index, updated for the 2006 Census (NZSEI06). Using the ‘returns to human capital’ framework, whereby occupation is viewed as the means by which human capital (i.e., education) is converted into material rewards (i.e., income), the NZSEI06 assigns SEP scores to individuals based on their occupation. I will briefly describe the construction of the NZSEI06, describe some preliminary validation work, and discuss its advantages and limitations especially in comparison to other NZ measures of SEP. I conclude that the NZSEI06 provides a robust, standardised and internationally comparable occupational scale of SEP, and that it is a useful addition to the suite of socio-economic indicators available in NZ.

Dr Barry Milne is a Research Fellow at the Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences.

Microsimulation and public policy. Issues and prospects

Martin Spielauer
Wednesday 22 February

Microsimulation is currently experiencing a boom which is driven by three main forces: increased demand of policymakers for detailed projections and models; the emergence of new research paradigms with an increased emphasis on individuals within their context; and, technological advances. In this seminar I will first introduce policy microsimulation by presenting its main underlying ideas and its history.

I will then outline the way in which we in Statistics Canada have pioneered the application of microsimulation to policy questions, and discuss various examples. Finally, I will look to the future of the field. Is it destined to be one for the ad hoc application of techniques creating niche products or dubious black box models applicable only with caution where other methods are not available? Or will microsimulation find its way into the methodological toolbox of mainstream social scientists with some prospects for self-sustaining scientific progress?

Martin Spielauer is an expert in demographic and socio-economic microsimulation with more than 10 years of experience in microsimulation modelling and the management of microsimulation projects.

As Senior Researcher at Statistics Canada, Martin Spielauer leads the development, updating and documentation of various microsimulation modules of the Canadian socio-economic model LifePaths.

He is also engaged in various inter-governmental and academic collaborations, currently providing expert advice and consultancy services in projects in Spain, Slovenia, Austria, the US, and New Zealand.

Martin Spielauer has published extensively both in peer-reviewed journals as well as publications of government and international agencies including Statistics Canada, the United Nations, the European Commission and the Asian Development Bank.

Causal Inference in Observational Settings - Book/Reader Proposal for Sage Benchmark Series in Social Research Methods.

Professor Peter Davis
Friday 17th February

Professor Davis has just had accepted by Sage a proposal for a reader on causal inference in observational settings (see attached). In this presentation he outlines the concept and elaborates the key ideas and readings, seeking suggestions and engagement to improve the final product.