, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 607–612 | Cite as

How Qualitative Methods Can be Used to Inform Model Development

  • Samantha HusbandsEmail author
  • Susan Jowett
  • Pelham Barton
  • Joanna Coast
Leading Article


Decision-analytic models play a key role in informing healthcare resource allocation decisions. However, there are ongoing concerns with the credibility of models. Modelling methods guidance can encourage good practice within model development, but its value is dependent on its ability to address the areas that modellers find most challenging. Further, it is important that modelling methods and related guidance are continually updated in light of any new approaches that could potentially enhance model credibility. The objective of this article was to highlight the ways in which qualitative methods have been used and recommended to inform decision-analytic model development and enhance modelling practices. With reference to the literature, the article discusses two key ways in which qualitative methods can be, and have been, applied. The first approach involves using qualitative methods to understand and inform general and future processes of model development, and the second, using qualitative techniques to directly inform the development of individual models. The literature suggests that qualitative methods can improve the validity and credibility of modelling processes by providing a means to understand existing modelling approaches that identifies where problems are occurring and further guidance is needed. It can also be applied within model development to facilitate the input of experts to structural development. We recommend that current and future model development would benefit from the greater integration of qualitative methods, specifically by studying ‘real’ modelling processes, and by developing recommendations around how qualitative methods can be adopted within everyday modelling practice.


Data Availability Statement

Data sharing is not applicable as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.


Samantha Husbands was primarily responsible for reviewing the literature and writing the manuscript, with support from, Susan Jowett, Pelham Barton and Joanna Coast. All authors read, edited and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The preparation of this review was in part funded by a college studentship obtained by Samantha Husbands through the University of Birmingham.

Conflict of interest

Samantha Husbands, Susan Jowett, Pelham Barton and Joanna Coast declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social and Community MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Health Economics Unit, Institute of Applied Health ResearchUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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