The approach, called "adaptive management," allows decision-makers to use knowledge they gain during an outbreak to update ongoing interventions with the goal of containing outbreaks more quickly and efficiently. Current efforts to prevent or stem such outbreaks may fall short because of uncertainty and limited information about the real-time dynamics of the specific disease outbreak. The researchers have written a scientific paper on this adaptive management approach that will be published on 21 October in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.
"Responders often have incomplete information during a disease outbreak," said Katriona Shea, professor of biology at Penn State and a leader of the research team. "Everyone is trying to make rapid decisions, but we don't have reliable information to make the best decisions. Even if we have information about a previous outbreak, no two outbreaks are identical. Adaptive management involves planning to learn as you act for the most effective, efficient response."
...Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders work quickly to contain outbreaks as well as to prevent further spread. "Preparing, in advance, to include monitoring and evaluation with an eye toward changing management actions in light of changing conditions on the ground is the key to adaptive management. We've shown that a plan to manage adaptively can change the recommended actions on day one because, for example, you only need to manage for the worst-case scenario if it arises," Ferrari said.
...Historically, Ferrari said, "the argument has been for a very static policy because it's clear and easy to implement. We recognize that a more nuanced, context-specific approach could be better. We need to put the possibility of changing midstream into our toolbox, integrating scientific discovery with policymaking to improve intervention efforts."...