Compelling case project – Phase 2


Status current

Start Date

Estimated End Date


Dynamic simulation modelling to support investment decisions across the common risk factors for lifestyle-related chronic disease

Project title

What is the issue?

Despite many major chronic diseases being largely preventable through changes to health behaviours (including poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption and obesity), only 1.3% of all health spending is currently directed towards prevention programs.

In an effort to establish a compelling argument for investment in prevention and to determine how best to target strategies for maximum impact, the Prevention Centre previously supported the Compelling Case Project Phase 1.

How is the project addressing the issue?

The first phase of the Compelling Case project delivered a proof of concept national system dynamics model of six interacting lifestyle-related risk factors, their related health burden, and several intervention archetypes capable of demonstrating net benefits over the short and long term. It also demonstrated the value of using more textured agent-based models for specific issues at the state and regional level and how these models could interact with the national model to track impacts on local and national performance.

The second phase of this work aims to:

  • Develop the proof of concept national systems dynamics model into a customised, validated, robust decision support tool to inform national strategies for lifestyle-related chronic disease prevention in Australia
  • Engage key decision makers in the customisation of the tool and, where possible, build embedded capacity within health departments to use and maintain the tool and generate insights useful for informing policy and planning over the longer term
  • Integrate and exercise the agent-based models developed during the first phase (particularly the tobacco and alcohol models) to generate inputs for the national model and derive insights for policy, planning, advocacy, communications and publication in the scientific literature.

Like all of our dynamic simulation modelling projects, we are using a participatory approach that builds on knowledge translation methods and brings multidisciplinary stakeholders together to collaborate and explore policy and health service scenarios. The participatory methods place the key stakeholder at the centre of the process.

Relevance for policy and practice

This project will demonstrate to our policy partners that they can apply the national model to support their decision making. We will show that the model can be updated as new data becomes available, making it a long-term decision support asset for best buys in chronic disease prevention and burden reduction.

In addition, the national model will be able to be customised and made applicable to different population levels, such as at state and territory levels, in the future.

We are committed to building internal capacity within state and territory as well as federal health departments to improve understanding of the value of these decision support tools and build confidence and competence in interacting with them and their supporting infrastructure.

What are the expected outcomes?

The outputs will be:

  • A model that allows scenario testing and forecasting of the impact of single and multiple interventions and the cost-effectiveness of different combinations of interventions
  • A range of insights briefs, publications and other visual communications to disseminate the work
  • A model user guide.


Other publications




  • Davison J, Currie D, Atkinson JA, Crosland P, Page A, Heffernan M, Geoff McDonnell. Simulating the impacts of lifestyle-related risk factors on the health of Australians: Understanding the complexities of modelling disease prevention. Asia Pacific System Dynamics Society Conference. February 2020. Winning entry, poster presentation. Download poster here (PDF4.6MB).
  • Ananthapavan J. The economics of prevention. The Public Health Association of Australia’s Preventive Health Conference 2020. Plenary address. May 2020.


  • Crosland P. Economic cost of preventable disease Australia: systematic review of estimates and methods. Public Health Association of Australia Prevention Conference. Melbourne, 12-14 June, 2019.


This project is funded by the NHMRC, Australian Government Department of Health, ACT Health, Cancer Council Australia, NSW Ministry of Health, Wellbeing SA, Tasmanian Department of Health, and VicHealth.