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Runge, Michael C.; Shea, Katriona; Howerton, Emily; Yan, Katie; Hochheiser, Harry; Rosenstrom, Erik; Probert, William J. M.; Borchering, Rebecca K.; Marathe, Madhav V.; & Lewis, Bryan, et al. (Preprint). Scenario Design for Infectious Disease Projections: Integrating Concepts from Decision Analysis and Experimental Design. medRxiv. PMCID: PMC10592999


Across many fields, scenario modeling has become an important tool for exploring long-term projections and how they might depend on potential interventions and critical uncertainties, with relevance to both decision makers and scientists. In the past decade, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of epidemiology has seen substantial growth in the use of scenario projections. Multiple scenarios are often projected at the same time, allowing important comparisons that can guide the choice of intervention, the prioritization of research topics, or public communication. The design of the scenarios is central to their ability to inform important questions. In this paper, we draw on the fields of decision analysis and statistical design of experiments to propose a framework for scenario design in epidemiology, with relevance also to other fields. We identify six different fundamental purposes for scenario designs (decision making, sensitivity analysis, value of information, situational awareness, horizon scanning, and forecasting) and discuss how those purposes guide the structure of scenarios. We discuss other aspects of the content and process of scenario design, broadly for all settings and specifically for multi-model ensemble projections. As an illustrative case study, we examine the first 17 rounds of scenarios from the U.S. COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, then reflect on future advancements that could improve the design of scenarios in epidemiological settings.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title



Runge, Michael C.
Shea, Katriona
Howerton, Emily
Yan, Katie
Hochheiser, Harry
Rosenstrom, Erik
Probert, William J. M.
Borchering, Rebecca K.
Marathe, Madhav V.
Lewis, Bryan
Venkatramanan, Srinivasan
Truelove, Shaun A.
Lessler, Justin
Viboud, C├ęcile

Article Type





Lessler - 0000-0002-9741-8109