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Diagnostic evaluation with simulated probabilities

Befani, Barbara and Elsenbroich, Corinna and Badham, Jen (2021) 'Diagnostic evaluation with simulated probabilities.', Evaluation, 27 (1). pp. 102-115.


As policy makers require more rigorous assessments for the strength of evidence in Theory-Based evaluations, Bayesian logic is attracting increasing interest; however, the estimation of probabilities that this logic (almost) inevitably requires presents challenges. Probabilities can be estimated on the basis of empirical frequencies, but such data are often unavailable for most mechanisms that are objects of evaluation. Subjective probability elicitation techniques are well established in other fields and potentially applicable, but they present potential challenges and might not always be feasible. We introduce the community to a third way: simulated probabilities. We provide proof of concept that simulation can be used to estimate probabilities in diagnostic evaluation and illustrate our case with an application to health policy.

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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:29 September 2021
Date of first online publication:14 January 2021
Date first made open access:29 September 2021

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