Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD
Ellen G. Engelhardt, PhD
Deputy Editor
Surviving and Thriving in the Moment
by Brian Zikmund-Fisher , PhD; University of Michigan

One of the things that only a few people in SMDM know about me is that I practice improv theater games. For example, I particularly like to play New Choice, which is a classic improv game that focuses on immediately adapting to unexpected change. During a scene, whenever "new choice" is called, whatever was just said or done must be changed, and everyone in the scene must accept that change. Playing New Choice exercises my ability to accept and adapt to whatever is next.

Why am I bringing up this game here and now? Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a giant, worldwide, societally altering game of New Choice. Teaching? New choice to online classes! Planning a conference, as SMDM is and was? New choice to find new ways to build collaborations online! Etc. Some of these choices are temporary, but some will be permanent. We have to adapt.

The world is aware of the importance of good medical decisions right now. Risk data and modeling studies are everywhere in the pubic media, and they need to be both accurate and understandable. The expertise of SMDM is critical infrastructure in the decisions of this moment, and we have to make some new choices to meet that need.

The newly announced SMDM COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee (see below) is one example of a New Choice response to this moment. Another New Choice is the SMDM Member (Virtual) Meetups that you can read more about in our Member News section. Hopefully, there will be many more.

Life isn't going back to the way it was before COVID-19. Rather than fearing that truth, improv teaches me to accept it. Perhaps thinking of it in that way might help you.

Our Spring 2020 SMDM Newsletter has a variety of information that I hope you will find valuable in this moment.

In this issue, you will find:

  • SMDM President Lisa Prosser provides a thoughtful update on how the Society is managing this moment.
  • An announcement from Gillian Sanders Schmidler and Kathy McDonald on behalf of the SMDM COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee about the new COVID-19 Model Repository. Please share the news about this initiative far and wide!
  • Ankur Pandya reflects on coronavirus, the mythical “decision maker”, and the use of modeling.
  • Deputy Editor Ellen Engelhardt reports the results of our Winter Poll on responses to scientific misconduct. The data show some fascinating patterns, both in terms of willingness to report concerns and in terms of potential barriers to action.
  • Davene Wright discusses the value and relevance of social media in these changing times.
  • The inaugural SMDM Fellows Column (written by Eline Krijkamp, Ruth Ndjaboue Njike, Kyu Lee, and Rachel Pozzar), introducing themselves and their path to SMDM. The fellows plan to provide a regular column of their experiences and insights moving forward.
  • Joanna Siegel provides an update and correction about the reauthorization of PCORI

Please also take note of our Spring Scientific Issues in MDM Poll, which asks a few questions about the terms we use in our research to categorize participants by gender identity. PLEASE click on the link to the poll and share your thoughts! It will only take a few minutes!

Lastly, two bittersweet notes.

First, anyone who has interacted with the SMDM offices in recent memory has had the opportunity to get to know the model of professionalism and responsiveness that is Trevor Scholl. Unfortunately for us, Trevor’s last day with our management company PMA (and hence with the Society) was April 3. We wish him well. Moving forward, our tasks at PMA will be handled by Damien Salamacha.

Second, this Newsletter marks the end of my term as Editor. I have welcomed the opportunity to connect with the SMDM membership throughout the last 2 ½ years and to get to know many contributors better. I have particularly enjoyed launching the Scientific Issues in MDM Polls, which I hope have sparked consideration of a variety of issues of interest to us all. Nonetheless, I need to step away as I prepare to take over as Editor-in-Chief of our Society’s journals Medical Decision Making and Medical Decision Making: Policy & Practice in January 2021. Fortunately, the Newsletter remains in good hands: Ellen Engelhardt has agreed to move up to be the new Editor, and she will be supported by Aisha Langford as the new Deputy Editor. Please continue to support them, and all of us, by suggesting interesting and topical content for future newsletters!

Lisa Prosser, PhD
SMDM President's Column
by Lisa Prosser, PhD; University of Michigan

I hope you are all doing as well as possible given the current circumstances. I am going to defer the topic that I had originally planned to address in this April newsletter (Household Production, Unconscious Bias, and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis) until the next issue. In today’s column, I’d just like to express my vast appreciation for our SMDM community during this difficult time.

I recently read a quote on one of my favorite author’s posts (Susan Cain): The opposite of anxiety is gratitude. So I’d like to take the chance to say how grateful I am for our SMDM community. In the past few weeks, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s European SMDM meeting scheduled for Berlin in June 2020 (now rescheduled for June 2021). During this process, I was so impressed by the commitment and caring of everyone involved in this decision that had to be made in a very short time frame – and an enormous thank you to the Berlin planning committee who has done a tremendous amount of planning and will do it all again next year. And although we do not know what the summer/fall will bring, we are already considering potential alternatives for the October meeting should these be needed. And again I am incredibly appreciative of the thoughtful conversations that are being initiated around this topic.

I would also like to recognize the exceptional commitment of our many members who are using their knowledge, skills and expertise to address the pandemic in a broad diversity of applications – from modeling to risk communication to translating important information to the media to many more examples. It’s been amazing to see the incredible contributions being made by our SMDM members. I also know that many of our SMDM members are on the frontlines of this pandemic. Please know that we are here to support your work and your personal sacrifice in the face of this crisis. Thank you.

In my own work I have been observing friends and colleagues’ extremely different reactions to this pandemic crisis. Some are finding comfort in working around the clock, while others are having an extremely difficult time in focusing. I hope that we can all allow for these varying reactions in our work and home lives. My SMDM friends and colleagues have served as an incredible source of support for me during the last few weeks and I encourage you to stay in touch with your colleagues and support each other as we have always done in the SMDM community.

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” – Brene Brown

In the meantime, please stay safe and take care.

The opinions stated in the following commentaries are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Society for Medical Decision Making or the author's institution.
Gillian Sanders Schmidler, PhD
Kathy McDonald, PhD
COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee – Creating a Platform for Collaboration
by the SMDM COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee Co-Chairs Gillian Sanders Schmidler, PhD; and Kathy McDonald, PhD
During the current pandemic, consequential decisions are influencing population and individual health outcomes for years to come. Will SMDM members and their networks engage to achieve SMDM’s mission of better decisions for better health at this moment? Undoubtedly. In addition, the SMDM leadership wants the Society’s longstanding collaborative capability directed quickly, creatively, and meaningfully to the enormous need in every corner of our world for decision making support.

As part of accomplishing this goal, the SMDM COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee has formed with the following charter:

Immediately create a public commons of decision tools and resources for decisionmakers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions relevant to patient and population care, delivery system organization and policy formulation are all in scope. Assemble a useful knowledge base from SMDM Members and their networks.

The Committee is creating a website repository of information about decision tools and resources for decisionmakers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The repository will facilitate comparing the structure and underlying evidence supporting the various decision modeling efforts. It will also connect decisionmakers who have timely clinical or policy questions with members of the decision modeling community whose models may serve their needs.
The Special Committee is reaching out to SMDM Members and the broader decision modeling community with three requests:

  1. If you are involved with an ongoing decision modeling effort related to COVID-19, we invite you to submit a description, parameter inputs, and assumptions for your model to the repository
  2. If you are aware of ongoing decision modeling efforts not currently represented in the repository, please send along information about this SMDM repository to these teams or send contact information to our team at [email protected] so we can reach out directly
  3. Please feel free to distribute information about this repository through your channels (tagging @socmdm), website:

For more information on the Covid-19 Decision Model Repository click here .
Questions, suggestions, and more information is available at the Committee’s email address ( [email protected] ).
SMDM COVID-19 Modeling Special Committee

Gillian Sanders Schmidler (Duke University), Co-Chair
Kathy McDonald (John Hopkins University), Co-Chair

Fernando Alarid-Escudero (Center for Research and Teaching in Economics)
Robert Beck (Fox Chase Cancer Center)
Ava John-Baptiste (Western University)
Lisa Prosser (University of Michigan)
Mark Roberts (University of Pittsburgh)
Mark Sculpher (University of York)
Uwe Siebert (UMIT)
John Wong (Tufts Medical Center)
Ankur Pandya, PhD
Coronavirus and the "Decision-Maker"
by  Ankur Pandya  , PhD; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Those of us who make disease simulation models for a living are used to working in the abstract. The individuals in our models are hypothetical, many of the interventions we model are "what-if" scenarios, and it can often feel like we are working through purely academic exercises as opposed to actually informing policy decisions under consideration.
Perhaps I'm getting overly cynical as I age, but I sometimes chuckle to myself when reading a particularly dense modeling study that mentions the mythical "decision-maker", imagining an elected official parsing through equations full of Greek symbols and thinking "Ah-ha! Now that I've seen the copula, which, as I learned in 'Elected Decision-Maker School' means a multivariate cumulative distribution function, I know how to act." Watching the events of the coronavirus pandemic unfold has altered my thinking on this point, however, as it has changed so many parts of daily life for each of us.
In Spring 2020, disease simulation models directly informed the general public and categorically shaped life-altering public health policies. Given how niche our field can feel within public health and medicine, let alone society at large, I hope you believe me when I say that my heartrate went up a little bit when writing that sentence. Disease simulation models directly informed the general public and categorically shaped life-altering public health policies .
Coronavirus disease models, such as the individual-level transmission model adapted by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team , directly informed decisions made by elected politicians at the national level, state and local officials, leaders of large institutions (such as universities, school boards, or businesses), and individuals trying to reduce their personal and population-level risk.
As a disease simulation modeler who works on unrelated conditions (stroke and heart disease), I want to first thank my infectious disease modeler colleagues who worked tirelessly to produce this high-quality, timely, and profoundly relevant information to the decision-makers mentioned above. These researchers and public servants will likely never receive proportional credit for their contributions. I will remember their work for a long time.
Watching the public react and mostly (that's a story for a different post) consume the information and lessons derived from the modeling reports will also stick with me for a long time moving forward. #FlattenTheCurve became a slogan used by public health researchers, politicians, celebrities, and my siblings/neighbors/friends in all of my social media feeds alike. That hashtag directly relates to the graphs produced by the simulation models mentioned above. With the right visuals, purposeful messaging, and rigorous approaches we work on every day, disease modelers can actually make a difference with decision-makers when it matters most.
There are so many frustrating and negative aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps that is why, for me, this reaffirmation of the purpose in our modeling work has meant so much.
Ellen G. Engelhardt, PhD
Deputy Editor

Results from the Winter 2020 Scientific Issues in MDM Poll on Scientific Integrity
by Ellen G. Engelhardt, PhD; SMDM e-newsletter Deputy Editor

In the Winter Poll we explored SMDM members’ thoughts on situations in which they have concerns about fellow researchers engaging in dubious scientific practices. With the questions in the poll we aimed to assess how respondents (think they) would act in such situations.

In total, 58 SMDM members completed the survey (Thank you!). Respondents were mainly from North America (88%), 38% worked in the SMDM subfield of Decision Psychology and Shared Decision Making, and 31% worked in the SMDM subfield of Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy Research.

All 58 respondents indicated that if they have concerns about fellow researchers engaging in dubious scientific practices, they will act in some form. If respondents had doubts about a presentation, 37% would bring up their concerns publicly during the meeting, while 49% would bring it up with the speaker privately either during or after the meeting. The remaining 14% would want to act, but whether they would and how they would act depends on for example whether they knew the speaker, the context and number of attendants at the meeting. If the presenting author brushes off the concerns expressed, 52% of respondents would let it go for the moment but bring it up on another occasion, whilst 26% would let it go. Other actions described were waiting until the results are published and writing a letter to the editor, performing a replication study, or talking to other researchers in the field to obtain an independent opinion. If respondents knew a co-author on the paper well, then 80% would talk to the co-author during the meeting, 12% would discuss their concerns with the co-author after the meeting, and 5% would let it go.

In the context of peer review, if respondents suspected that some dubious research practices were followed (based on the methods, data, and/or findings), then 67% would explicitly raise their concerns in their review comments to the author, 28% would only raise their concerns in confidential comments to the editor, and 5% would raise their concerns both in their comments to the authors and the editor.

Importantly, respondents noted that their resolve to act if they suspect dubious scientific practices would be influenced by a number of factors. In particular, half (50%) of respondents indicated they would be less likely to voice their concerns if the researcher in question was considerably more senior than them. Generally, fear of being wrong and fear of the possible consequences for the researcher in question if you are wrong were the strongest potential barriers to acting (see Figure 1).

It is notable that our SMDM member respondents felt a strong sense of duty to act if they suspect dubious scientific practices. This is a very important topic, and it is encouraging that respondents feel such a sense of duty to be proactive in these situations.
Davene Wright , PhD
The (Virtual) Room Where it Happens: Social Media and Science Communication
by Davene Wright, PhD; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
We’re facing a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. We have all been asked to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, but that doesn’t mean we have to engage in social distancing, personally or professionally. As I mourn the postponement of conferences, social events, and vacations, I’ve been buoyed by meaningful interactions with friends and colleagues online. Twitter, in particular, has been a critical tool for keeping up with COVID-19 related research and for fostering a sense of community within our fields.

As many of the topics our society studies (i.e. decision making under uncertainty, risk communication, resource allocation, and simulation models) are relevant to this pandemic, I’d like to invite you all to participate in a virtual exchange of ideas. Over the next few months, please visit the SMDM twitter account to look for information about COVID-19-related research and resources for managing your research and teaching obligations in the physically distant world in which we’re living today. We could also use help finding and producing content to share. Please tag @socmdm in posts you’d like us to amplify via our Twitter network.

For those of who are considering dipping your toes into Twitter for the first time, Jessica Hische wrote an introductory twitter guide for new users. Sarah Mojarad, an expert in science communication through social media, suggests the following basic guidelines:

  1. Tweet as much or as little as you like.
  2. There’s no right or wrong way to tweet! Find your own style and talk about whatever you want to talk about. But be prepared for your ideas to be challenged.
  3. Take a break when you need one.
  4. Consider how much information you are willing to reveal online (e.g. unpublished data, pictures, your geographic location when you travel, and personal health information).

As a society, I think we have a real opportunity to disseminate knowledge that will help fight the global health and healthcare challenges we are facing. While I’ll miss seeing many of you in Berlin, I look forward to engaging with you all at a distance online until we can be reunited.
Eline Krijkamp,
PhD Student
Ruth Ndjaboue Njike, PhD
Rachel Pozzar, PhD, RN
Not Pictured: Kyu Eun Lee
SMDM Fellows Column:
Multiple Paths to a Shared Destination
Welcome to the SMDM Fellows Column, where we will share our experiences engaging with SMDM and reflect on topics of interest to SMDM members. Like SMDM itself, we are an international and interdisciplinary cohort. In this first column, we explore the myriad paths that led each of us to pursue a research career in decision science. We hope to illustrate the ways in which exposure to decision science may benefit the work of early career investigators.

For Eline Krijkamp, an Erasmus MC PhD student, decision science provided an opportunity to integrate a passion for numbers with a desire to improve health outcomes. “Numbers make me tick. During a laboratory internship, my colleagues were passionate about cell cultures and knock-out mice; I preferred to analyze the data. During my masters programs in health economics and epidemiology, I learned about medical decision sciences from Prof. Myriam Hunink. Was this too good to be true? A field that combines health economics with epidemiology, where numbers are important and where colleagues are aiming to improve health?”

For Ruth Ndjaboue Njike, post-doctoral research fellow at Université Laval, decision science offered a novel approach to bridging the gap between research and practice. “As a psychologist and epidemiologist by training, I was able to take a global approach to health research, but I was frustrated to notice the gap between evidence-based information and what matters to the population. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Holly Witteman, who introduced me to decision science and SMDM-- two for the price of one.”

Kyu Lee, a Stanford University PhD candidate, found that the tools used in decision science make it possible to answer questions pertaining to value. “When I was working on a project to develop immunotherapy for ovarian cancer as an undergraduate thesis project, I wondered who would be willing to pay for an expensive new therapy that was marginally more beneficial than existing drugs. During my masters program, Prof. Eva Enns and Prof. Karen Kuntz introduced me to decision science. Since then, I have focused on similar questions in the context of developing countries under the guidance of Prof. Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, who is my primary thesis advisor.”

For Rachel Pozzar, a post-doctoral research fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, decision science offered an approach to reconcile patients’ values, beliefs, and preferences with the provision of guideline-based care. “As a nurse scientist, my clinical experiences have highlighted the extent to which individual and contextual factors may influence cancer care quality. My mentor, Dr. Donna Berry, suggested I engage with SMDM to develop a conceptualization of quality that is patient-centered and integrates evidence-based recommendations with an understanding of what matters to patients.”

Despite our diverse experiences, our paths are bound by the identification of a research question that is not readily answered by the work of a single discipline. Likewise, we have each benefited from strong mentorship by multidisciplinary SMDM members. We are grateful for this fellowship, and we look forward to working together in years to come.
The SMDM Fellowship in Medical Decision Making is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The overarching goal of the SMDM Fellowship in Medical Decision Making is to build and support a cohort of future leaders with the skills to effectively apply decision science to research and practice.
Letter To The Editor Regarding PCORI's Charge
To the Editor:

I’m writing to correct a misconception that appeared in last month’s SMDM Newsletter with regard to the evolution in PCORI’s charge, particularly with respect to capturing economic outcomes. In his Commentary, Mark Liebow writes:

PCORI Gets Ten More Years, Can Use CEAs

… Even better, PCORI studies will be able to consider the “full range of outcomes data” to include the “potential burdens and economic impacts of the utilization of medical treatments, items, and services on different stakeholders and decision-makers respectively”. This means cost-effectiveness analyses are no longer banned. …

While much of Mark’s report on PCORI’s reauthorization is correct, the inference that PCORI is now authorized to conduct cost-effectiveness is not correct. The original language authorizing PCORI has not changed. What has changed is the addition of language charging PCORI with considering the full range of outcomes data – the language Mark cited above, here in full:

. …In addition to the relative health outcomes and clinical effectiveness, clinical and patient-centered outcomes shall include the potential burdens and economic impacts of the utilization of medical treatments, items, and services on different stakeholders and decision-makers respectively. These potential burdens and economic impacts include medical out-of-pocket costs, including health plan benefit and formulary design, non-medical costs to the patient and family, including caregiving, effects on future costs of care, workplace productivity and absenteeism, and healthcare utilization.

What this means is that PCORI, which to date has not looked to include patient-centered cost outcomes, can now consider moving this direction. It is a far reach, however, from capturing these outcomes to conducting CEAs – and to be clear, PCORI will not be funding CEAs.

Joanna Siegel, Director; Dissemination & Implementation
Bill Lawrence, Senior Clinical Advisor
SMDM 42nd Annual Meeting
Call for Abstracts and Short Courses
Deadline: May 26, 2020
SMDM is now accepting abstract and short course proposals to be presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The deadline to submit proposals is Tuesday, May 28, 2019. All submissions will be reviewed and notifications will be sent out in late July 2020.

Following on the 2019 meeting that examined individual stakeholder perspectives on the concept of value, the 2020 meeting theme, "Relationships in Medical Decision Making", examines how the dyadic, interpersonal, and interprofessional relationships that characterize the health care system interact in clinical and health policy decision making. Join us in exploring how the nuances of these relationships affect the way patients and health care systems make decisions and the results for health outcomes, patient experience, health care delivery, and cost.

Meeting co-chairs: David Meltzer , MD, PhD and Alan Schwartz , PhD
18th Biennial European Conference
Postponed to 2021
SMDM has postponed the 18th Biennial European Conference which was set to take place in Berlin, Germany, June 14 - 16, 2020, after careful deliberation and discussions due to the evolving situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and restrictions on non-essential travel. The conference will be postponed to 2021.

SMDM would like to thank the European Conference Planning Chairs, Uwe Siebert, Silke Siebert, Beate Jahn, and Tobias Kurth, for their hard work. The conference co-chairs have agreed to continue serving as co-chairs for the European Conference in 2021. SMDM also thanks the volunteers who served on the other conference planning committees for their work in planning the conference. We realize that preparation and anticipation of the 18th Biennial European Conference was on track for a successful event; however, we made this decision to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our members, as well as the broader community. Cancellation of the 18 th Biennial European Conference will have a minimum financial impact to SMDM and its operations.

Top-ranked abstracts will have the opportunity to be presented during the 42 nd Annual North American meeting, additional details to be determined.

The 18th Biennial European Conference will be rescheduled to May or June 2021, details to be confirmed. Please direct any questions to [email protected].
SMDM Member (Virtual) Meetups
To support ongoing connections within our SMDM community during the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, we are introducing SMDM Member Meetups to provide a forum for members to engage virtually during these unusual times. We hope that SMDM members will use the Member Meetups to connect with each other for any and all reasons, such as:

  • around a certain topic (think virtual special interest group meetings), 
  • to meet leading SMDM experts (think virtual dinners with the experts), or 
  • for peer support (think virtual coffee breaks, lunch, or happy hour).  

If you’d like to host a member meet-up on SMDM's videoconference platform, please email Cara Pestorius at  [email protected] , and we'll help to set it up. 

If you would like to participate in meetups, look for announcements and signups from SMDM coming soon in your email!
Lee B. Lusted Sub-Award Nominations:
Applied Health Economics (AHE) Category
SMDM seeks nominations of exceptional candidates who have made contributions in the area of Applied Health Economics (AHE) to have the Lee B. Lusted Student Awards in AHE named after him/her. The honoree will have the sub-award named for him/her for five years for the period 2020 - 2025.

Candidates for the AHE sub-award will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Made a seminal contribution to the field
  • Ongoing contributions/involvement with the Society
  • Role in teaching and mentoring
The goal is for the named set of awards to reflect the diversity of our AHE community as well as the diversity of our research as a Society. There are five categories for the Lee B. Lusted Awards: Decision Psychology and Shared Decision Making, Quantitative Methods and Theoretical Developments, Applied Health Economics, Heath Services and Policy Research, and Patient and Stakeholder Preferences and Engagement. For the period 2017-2022, the Lee B. Lusted Student Award in the Decision Psychology & Shared Decision Making (DEC) category is named in honor of  Dr. Margaret Holmes-Rovner . For the period 2018 - 2023, the Lee B. Lusted Student Award in the Quantitative Methods & Theoretical Developments (QMTD) category is named in honor of  Dr. Stephen Pauker .   For the period 2019-2024, the Lee B. Lusted Student Award in the Patient and Stakeholder Preferences & Engagement (PSPE) category is named in honor of Dr. Anne Stiggelbout .

Nominations should be less than one page and include the nominee's CV. Please submit your nominees by  Tuesday, April 21, 2020   by completing a brief nomination form via the button below.
Call for Volunteers
Continuing with SMDM’s goals of promoting diversity, inclusion and transparency, we are opening a call for two vital leadership roles in our Society.

Call for Education Committee Chairperson and Committee Members

The Education Committee is one of SMDM’s flagship standing committees. Its purpose is to extend and improve knowledge of medical decision making principles throughout the health care community, and through education, to foster growth of membership in the Society. The Committee's goal is to develop, implement, and evaluate a systematic SMDM educational program towards these ends. Short courses and the Moore Fellowship Program are two of the primary initiatives that the Committee currently oversees. SMDM has recently changed the leadership structure of the committee and the Committee is seeking members with a passion for education and teaching to serve as a Chairperson or as a committee member. Each is a 3-year term. If you would like more information or are interested in serving on the committee, please e-mail Damien Salamacha at [email protected] with your interest, relevant experience, and reason for applying.

Call for two Co-Chairs for the 2023 Annual North American Meeting – Philadelphia, PA

Similar to our call for European Meeting Chairs, we are opening a call for co-chairs to our 2023 Annual North American Meeting. The Annual Meeting co-chairs serve a vital role in helping to support and develop the Society’s meetings through developing the meeting program, fundraising, selecting symposia topics, and coordinating other aspects of the meeting. The Co-Chairs are supported in their roles by PMA, our administrative management firm, our Executive Director as well as SMDM’s Executive Committee, Board and numerous volunteers. The Society strives to have co-chairs with diverse backgrounds and perspectives so that we have representation from multiple disciplines. The 2023 Annual North American Meeting will be held October 22 – 25, 2023 at the 201 Hotel in Philadelphia, PA, USA. While the meeting is located in Philadelphia, co-chairs need not be local and we encourage individuals from any country to apply. If you would like more information or are interested in serving as a Meeting co-chair for the 2023 Annual North American Meeting, please e-mail Damien Salamacha at [email protected] with your interest, relevant experience, and reason for applying.
Call for Papers on Emerging Topics in Health Decision Analysis

Decision analysis is well suited to dealing with emerging topics in health care, which are often characterized by the need to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, conflicting objectives, limited evidence, and complex trade-offs. The INFORMS journal Decision Analysis is therefore seeking papers on emerging topics in health decision analysis.
A wide range of topics will be considered for the special issue. '

With regard to infectious disease epidemics and emerging threats, such as the recent worldwide coronavirus epidemic, topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Prospective or retrospective analysis of decisions relating to isolation, quarantine, or travel restrictions;
  • Bayesian or other statistical methods for estimating transmission and mortality rates, especially in the presence of incomplete, rapidly changing, and potentially inaccurate data;
  • Analysis of potential supply-chain disruptions and response strategies;
  • Guidance for risk communication based on behavioral decision theory;
  • Use of social media for risk estimation and/or risk communication;
  • Design of incentives for stakeholders (policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and patients);
  • Prioritization of diseases and/or selection of counter-measures for risk mitigation; and
  • Lessons learned from decision analyses of past disease outbreaks.

Other health-related topics of interest may include:

  • The role of artificial intelligence and big data in healthcare and medical decision making;
  • Dealing with the competing challenges of opiate addiction and pain management;
  • Strategies for preventing, detecting, and/or responding to biological terrorism;
  •  Decision making in the context of personalized medicine;
  • Impacts of climate change on human health;
  • The role of decision analysis in supporting global health policymaking and global health security; and
  • Assessing alternative approaches to providing healthcare coverage.

Papers submitted to Decision Analysis will go through the regular refereeing process, and must meet standards for archival publications. Papers must also fit the scope of the journal; see . Thus, for example, a paper that provided only a mathematical model of disease spread, without a connection to decision making, might be appropriate for another journal, but not for Decision Analysis

The journal commits to rapid turnaround of papers for this special issue, with the following expected timeline:
  • Letter of intent with extended (one-page) abstract: April 15, 2020
  • Initial submission deadline: December 15, 2020
  • First round of reviews: ≤ 6 weeks after submission
  • Publication: Fall 2021

Submission before December 15 is strongly encouraged; accepted papers will be published online within one month after submission of final accepted version, before the special issue is complete. Prospective authors should email a letter of intent and abstract to one of the guest editors: Prof. Elisa Long , UCLA, [email protected] ; Prof. Gilberto Montibeller , Loughborough University, [email protected] ; or Prof. Jun Zhuang , University at Buffalo, [email protected]
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity as a part of its   Diagnostic Excellence Initiative The initiative aims to reduce harm from erroneous or delayed diagnoses, reduce costs and redundancy in the diagnostic process, improve health outcomes and save lives. The foundation is soliciting a second round of novel ideas and approaches for developing new clinical measures to improve diagnosis, specifically targeting three major categories of disease: acute vascular events, infections and cancer. The application process will involve a multi-phased competitive process. Ultimately up to six grants will be awarded ($250,000 to $500,000 each) for work done over 12-18 months. A full list of measure development projects that have already been funded can be found on .

Applications will be accepted  online and are due no later than  May 4, 2020 . Feel free to send any questions to   [email protected]
Creating a Clearinghouse for Patient Communication Resources

Patient resources are currently scattered, and there’s no easy way for clinicians to find them. For example, only clinicians already well versed in SDM know about the Ottawa listing. 

I (Geri Lynn Baumblatt;  [email protected] ) am working with a free patient education/communication platform called Docola to create a content clearinghouse for patient education and DAs. This way patient educators and clinicians can go to one place to search for a range of resources in any format: videos, multimedia, PDFs, etc.
This platform makes it easy for clinicians and hospitals to find quality resources and e-prescribe them to patients and populations so they can:

  • Tell if patients start/view decision aids
  • Send reminders
  • Ask knowledge questions or collect goals and preferences
  • Collect data and analytics on utilization

Because there are a growing number of clinician users on this platform, whenever new resources are added, Docola proactively alerts clinicians if it’s relevant to their practice. 
Resources can be made available for free or for a licensing fee to support the cost of creating and maintaining them. The rights to the content stay with you, the content developers. 

The platform can also be used for research and CE. It’d be great to partner with SMDM to make SDM training available to clinicians.

Please connect with me if you’re interested to:
  • Add resources to the platform. You can always create a free account. 
  • To discuss ideas to add quality indicator so clinician-users can easily identify resources created as per IPDAS or health literacy best practices, etc.
  • To use the platform for research.
  • To partner on CE for clinicians.

If there’s interest, the founder is happy to do a demo webinar for SMDM members.

View Docola Resources
Scott B. Cantor , PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Long-time SMDM member and Past President Scott B. Cantor, PhD has “officially retired” from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as of January 31, 2020. However, he has not left MD Anderson, but rather, on February 10, 2020, he returned to work part-time as an Ombuds. He will retain a faculty appointment as Professor in the Department of Health Services Research.

  • Scott joined SMDM in 1989 as a doctoral student; he became faculty at The University of Texas Medical Branch in September 1991. In September 1994, he moved to MD Anderson as an Assistant Professor. He rose through the academic ranks, becoming a Professor in 2008.
  • Scott has had a distinguished career in decision science with over 150 peer-reviewed publications. His methodological areas of interest have been on cost-effectiveness analysis and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis; his clinical focus has been on cancer prevention with particular interests in prostate cancer screening and cervical cancer diagnosis. He has been a leader within SMDM, having been Trustee (1997-1999), Vice-President (2001), and President (2004). He was a Program Chair for the Houston meeting in 1997 (remember the rodeo!) and was recognized by the Society with the Eugene L. Saenger Award for Distinguished Service in 2012. ([email protected])
Tom Newman, PhD and Michael Kohn, PhD are pleased to announce that the second edition of Evidence-Based Diagnosis is due to be published by Cambridge University Press in May. A small subset of the material therein has been covered in their award-winning SMDM short courses. Besides extensive updating and new problems, this edition features all-new color illustrations by Dr. Martina Steurer a graphic artist who is also a pediatric intensivist and neonatologist. Martina took our course in 2012 and joined our teaching team in 2015. While you are waiting for the book, check out the book’s website at , which features some tools to help learners understand how likelihood ratios and regret graphs work. ( [email protected] )
Đurđa Vukićević , MD, PhD

As a product of the hard and continuous work of my entire research team, the last couple of months have been very fruitful. Supervised by professor Uwe Siebert , I defended my doctoral thesis entitled "Decision-Analytic Modeling in Hemato-Oncology" at the Institute of Public Health Medical Decision Making and HTA, University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall in Tirol, Austria. My article on real-world costs of long-acting opioids has been published in the Journal of Pain Research. Finally, in April 2020, our article about the cost-effectiveness of sequential treatments for multiple myeloma in Serbia has been published in the Slovenian Journal of Public Health. This work was a product of an Erasmus-funded project led by Professor Ursula Rochau during which we structurally adapted the Markov state transition model developed in Austria to capture treatment patterns routinely used within the Serbian healthcare system and parametrized it with country-specific healthcare utilization and costs. ( [email protected] )
Melanie Whittington , PhD has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the Department of Population Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research will continue to conduct value assessments for healthcare treatments and interventions to promote a value-based healthcare system.
Christine Gunn , MA, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine

Our team recently published an article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine , which reported on developing and pilot testing an interactive virtual health counselor to support women learning about their breast density after a mammogram. We partnered with local breast cancer advocates who were involved in the Pink & Black Education and Support network to develop content that promoted informed decision-making. Focus groups and a survey given before and after watching a demo of the program were conducted with 44 women. Participants were very satisfied with the prototype and knowledge about breast density increased for six of twelve items. We hope that this prototype is the start of developing a comprehensive suite of mammography education tools that can help women understand key information throughout the entire breast cancer screening process and empower them to participate in risk-based screening.The results have been highlighted in press articles, such as HemOnc Today .
Student News
Congratulations to our recent graduates!

Đurđa Vukićević , MD, PhD
Graduation Date:   September 2019
Area:  Health Pharmacoeconomics, medical decision making, HTA
Advisor:  Professor Uwe Siebert
Mentor: Professor Bruce Schackman

Dissertation Title:   Decision-Analytic Modeling in Hemato-Oncology

E-Mail:  [email protected]

SMDM Interactions:
Cost-Effectiveness of Sequential Treatment for Transplant-Ineligible Multiple Myeloma Patients in Serbia, 39th Annual SMDM Meeting, 2018
Short Courses Attended:
Introduction to Decision Modeling using R, 2018
DICE Simulation for Health Care Decision-Analytic Modeling, 2018
Interest Group: Global Health Interest Group
Here are the most recent job opportunities since our last newsletter. SMDM members can stay current on the newest opportunities in the Resources Section of SMDM Connect .
The SMDM Lifetime Contributors list acknowledges the SMDM members who have made contributions to the Annual Fund and acknowledges donations and in-kind donations, received from October 2005 - March 18, 2020. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone who has supported our Society!
University of Michigan
Deputy Editor
Netherlands Cancer Institute