Abstract for:Simulation Modeling in Health Policy: a Systematic and Critical Review of the Literature

We conducted a comprehensive review of health policy journal articles that used simulation modeling—1,613 articles satisfied our inclusion criteria. We performed chronological analyses and clustering based on health research areas and simulation modeling types. We also conducted an in-depth analysis of a random sample of 50 studies and the most-cited 50 to determine the reproducibility and quality of the studies. We show that, over the past 50 years, the overall publication trend has been exponentially growing, with the highest growth in dynamic modeling approaches. Nearly half of the 1,613 articles do not report the details of their models. In our in-depth analysis, both samples (random and most-cited) showed significant gaps with best practice guidelines; for instance, only seven of the twenty-six evaluation criteria were satisfied above eighty percent. Comparing the two groups of most-cited and randomly selected articles, the majority of the evaluation criteria did not differ, and in those that did differ, randomly selected articles often performed better than most-cited articles. Our findings indicate gaps in the breadth of health topics that are studied with a simulation modeling approach, as well as shortcomings in the rigor of simulation modeling based research itself.