What is modelling?
In the drugs field, many processes are difficult to study directly as information is often imprecise, delayed or not available. By using mathematical formulae or computer programmes, a simplified model of a process can be constructed. This model is then tested for its consistency against available data, or the results are examined when one component of the model is changed. This interactive procedure often demonstrates that the model is not satisfactory. The next step is then to find what is wrong, which component has been omitted, and so on. The end result can be a useful model to investigate different outcomes under different circumstances or interventions, or a 'best estimate' of future developments in the spread of drug use or a drug-related infectious disease, such as hepatitis C. Such models can be extremely useful tools for policy makers, as they enable taking decisions on resource allocation and interventions in situations where data are scarce.
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