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Decision support for risk prioritisation of environmental health hazards in a UK city

Woods, M; Crabbe, H; Close, R; Studden, M; Milojevic, A; Leonardi, G; Fletcher, T; (2016) Decision support for risk prioritisation of environmental health hazards in a UK city. Environmental Health , 15 (S1) , Article 29. 10.1186/s12940-016-0099-y. Green open access

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Abstract

Background There is increasing appreciation of the proportion of the health burden that is attributed to modifiable population exposure to environmental health hazards. To manage this avoidable burden in the United Kingdom (UK), government policies and interventions are implemented. In practice, this procedure is interdisciplinary in action and multi-dimensional in context. Here, we demonstrate how Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can be used as a decision support tool to facilitate priority setting for environmental public health interventions within local authorities. We combine modelling and expert elicitation to gather evidence on the impacts and ranking of interventions. Methods To present the methodology, we consider a hypothetical scenario in a UK city. We use MCDA to evaluate and compare the impact of interventions to reduce the health burden associated with four environmental health hazards and rank them in terms of their overall performance across several criteria. For illustrative purposes, we focus on heavy goods vehicle controls to reduce outdoor air pollution, remediation to control levels of indoor radon, carbon monoxide and fitting alarms, and encouraging cycling to target the obesogenic environment. Regional data was included as model evidence to construct a ratings matrix for the city. Results When MCDA is performed with uniform weights, the intervention of heavy goods vehicle controls to reduce outdoor air pollution is ranked the highest. Cycling and the obesogenic environment is ranked second. Conclusions We argue that a MCDA based approach provides a framework to guide environmental public health decision makers. This is demonstrated through an online interactive MCDA tool. We conclude that MCDA is a transparent tool that can be used to compare the impact of alternative interventions on a set of pre-defined criteria. In our illustrative example, we ranked the best intervention across the equally weighted selected criteria out of the four alternatives. Further work is needed to test the tool with decision makers and stakeholders.

Type: Article
Title: Decision support for risk prioritisation of environmental health hazards in a UK city
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12940-016-0099-y
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12940-016-0099-y
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://​creativecommons.​org/​publicdomain/​zero/​1.​0/​) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1482100
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