Lesson 2 of 5
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Lesson 2: Limitations Of Mathematical Modeling

Casey Snepar July 26, 2021

Mathematical Models for Advocates Course

Welcome to Lesson 2. This lesson helps you differentiate between questions that can and can’t be answered with mathematical modeling.

As you learned in Lesson 1, mathematical models can be used: 

  • To understand the spread of diseases or the future course of an outbreak 
  • To evaluate the impact of public health interventions
  • To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of public health interventions
  • When clinical trials are not possible

While modeling is useful in these instances, it isn’t the best approach for answering all questions. Some questions require implementation science or operations research instead.


The exercise below will help you differentiate between questions that are more and less suitable for modeling. Read the questions below and select ‘yes’ if modeling can be used to answer the question and ‘no’ if a different approach should be used. Please continue to click the arrow to ensure you answered all of the questions.