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Professor Tony Blakey

Professor Amanda Page

Professor Tony Blakey

Professor Blakely initiated and implemented the New Zealand Census-Mortality Study (NZCMS) in the late 1990s, a pioneering study linking the national censuses with mortality data to allow monitoring and research on ethnic and socio-economic inequalities and the contribution of smoking to mortality (the NZ census periodically includes smoking). He has also led the parallel study, CancerTrends, that links census and cancer registration data to allow cancer incidence and survival studies.

Since 2010, he directs the HRC-funded Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost Effectiveness Programme. This ambitious programme aims to build infrastructure (e.g. linked routine datasets) and capacity (e.g. economic decision modelling) to rapidly assess the health impact and cost effectiveness of a range of preventative and cancer control interventions – and examine their equity impacts. He also has research interests in nutrition and health services.

Structured Quantitative Speculation: Epidemiology for Action | Thursday 13 October 2016

This presentation will focus on two innovative approaches to inform policy: 1) causal mediation analyses, and 2) simulation modelling of the future health (inequality) impacts of policy options.

The current engagement with counterfactual methods in epidemiology can lead to a structured approach to isolate mediation effects.  For example, how much might social inequalities in mortality reduce if smoking (a mediator) is eradicated?

Regarding simulation, the future is not like the past. Life expectancy continues to rise meaning the envelope of health gain in the future is changing.  Future disease incidence and case fatality rates cannot be easily predicted, but it is possible to structure scenarios providing some quantitative estimates of future health impacts such as tobacco tax - acknowledging the inherent uncertainty in such simulations.

Professor Blakely will use Australasian research examples to illustrate the above opportunities for public health researchers to make innovative and influential contributions to both knowledge-generation and policy-making.  He will make a case for not avoiding ‘hard’ policy decisions, but accepting the inherent uncertainty and engaging in structured quantitative speculation.

Lecture Recording

Recorded 12 October 2016 at the University of Adelaide


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