Large-sample Bayesian posterior distributions for probabilistic sensitivity analysis

Gordon B. Hazen*, Min Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In probabilistic sensitivity analyses, analysts assign probability distributions to uncertain model parameters and use Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the sensitivity of model results to parameter uncertainty. The authors present Bayesian methods for constructing large-sample approximate posterior distributions for probabilities, rates, and relative effect parameters, for both controlled and uncontrolled studies, and discuss how to use these posterior distributions in a probabilistic sensitivity analysis. These results draw on and extend procedures from the literature on large-sample Bayesian posterior distributions and Bayesian random effects meta-analysis. They improve on standard approaches to probabilistic sensitivity analysis by allowing a proper accounting for heterogeneity across studies as well as dependence between control and treatment parameters, while still being simple enough to be carried out on a spreadsheet. The authors apply these methods to conduct a probabilistic sensitivity analysis for a recently published analysis of zidovudine prophylaxis following rapid HIV testing in labor to prevent vertical HIV transmission in pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-534
Number of pages23
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Bayesian methods
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Decision analysis
  • Expected value of perfect information
  • HIV transmission
  • Probabilistic sensitivity analysis
  • Random effects meta-analysis
  • Zidovudine prophylaxis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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