Key Research Areas
- Applied research in Public Health, Prevention, and Evidence-based Health Services Research with a focus on:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Infectious Diseases
- Gastrointestinal Diseases
- Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
- other Diseases
- Systematic integration of modern epidemiological and decision-analytic methods in the investigation of public-health related questions and the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines
- Planning, implementation and evaluation of epidemiologic studies, clinical trials, outcome studies, meta-analyses, risk-benefit assessments, economic evaluations, and ethical and legal assessments
- Planning and conducting studies in the areas of health services and outcomes research (assessment of need and access, organization, quality and health outcomes, HTA, economic evaluation, healthcare epidemiology, health policy and management)
- Causal evaluation of "big" real-world-evidence databases (e.g., pragmatic trials, cohort studies, registries, claims data)
- Assessment of health promotion, prevention and public health interventions
- Assessment of ethical and legal implications on a national, European and international level
- Linking environmental effects with health outcomes
- Development and evaluation of patient-tailored healthcare strategies (personalized medicine)
- Translating research results into public health guidance and converting science into practice to improve the health of individuals and populations
- Public Health
- Health Promotion and Prevention
- Health Services and Outcomes Research
- Climate Impacts on Health
- Evaluation of Claims Data
- Assessment of Needs and Access
- Benefit-Harm Assessment
- Medical Decision Making and Clinical Guideline Development
- Biostatistics and Epidemiology
- Evidence-Based Medicine
- Systematic Reviews / Meta-Analysis / Indirect Treatment Comparison
- Decision-Analytic Modeling
- Comparative Effectiveness Research
- Quality-of-Life Research
- Health Technology Assessment
- Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
- Environmental Health / Climate Change
- Causal Inference
- Personalized Medicine and Precision Medicine
- Physician-Patient Interaction
- Ethics in Health and Medicine
- Health Law
- Public Policy Recommendation
- Translational Research and Implementation Science
The Institute comprises the following Research Programs and Units:
Causal Inference in Science
In epidemiology and medicine, conclusions about the causal link between an exposure/intervention of interest and an outcome are drawn. Observational studies as well as randomized clinical trials with noncompliance, treatment switching or multiple line treatments must be adjusted to avoid confounding or other biases. The goal of this program is to develop international collaborations and task forces focusing on research and education of causality. A special focus is on the adjustment for time-varying confounding and causal methods such as the g-formula, marginal structural models (MSM) using inverse probability weighting (IPW), and structural nested models (SNM) using g-estimation as well as the application of such causal methods in "big" real world evidence databases.
Clinical epidemiology focuses on questions in public health and clinical medicine and applies the toolbox of modern epidemiologic methods. One goal of clinical epidemiology is to describe and understand the determinants, extent, and patterns of diseases. In our program, we aim to identify threats to health and well-being as well as potential risk factors for diseases. Another goal is to identify optimal preventive, diagnostic, prognostic, therapeutic and management approaches in healthcare to support evidence-based decision making by clinicians and health policy decision makers. A focus of our program lies on research based on real-world evidence and observational cohort studies and pragmatic trials of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, neurological disorders, and others. The program is involved in regional, national, and international research projects integrating modern approaches, such as medical decision making, causal inference, target trial emulation, and machine learning and bridges epidemiology to applied health technology assessment and outcome improvement in citizens/patients.
Environmental Health and Prevention
(Coordinator: Böse O'Reilly)
Many diseases and disorders are related to environmental factors. This program contributes to the awareness and research of global environmental health problems. A special focus is on children’s environment and health. Among others, research areas comprise mercury as a health hazard in gold mining areas, the adaptation to climate change in healthcare settings, and primary prevention programs.
Health Law and Policy
Healthcare policies, regulations and structural determinants of health systems influence stakeholders’ behaviors as well as the overall system performance. Based on fundamental and applied research, this program generates new knowledge, evidence and insights to enhance health and legal policy and practice, and improve health (system) outcomes. We engage in interdisciplinary research with colleagues in the fields of ethics, philosophy, law, medicine, nursing, public health, psychology, economics, political science and sociology.
Health Services & Outcomes Research
(Coordinator: Gothe H.)
Evidence-based healthcare and outcomes research requires a wealth of health services data which, ideally, should reflect the real world setting. An accessible source of such data is held by the healthcare and social security system itself. Despite the growing acceptance and use of such data, a series of methodological challenges remain to be addressed. The goal of our program is to overcome these challenges by applying cutting-edge data processing and analyzing solutions in order to establish methodological standards and to gain practice-oriented insights from high-end research endeavors.
Health Technology Assessment
Each day, innovative health technologies, services and community-based interventions become available. Healthcare decision makers must assess these technologies and decide which should be adopted and reimbursed. Our program on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) aims to develop and apply evaluation methods for systematically assessing benefits, harms and costs of health technologies with regard to their clinical, economic, ethical, legal and social aspects in national and international collaboration with academia and HTA organizations.
Microorganisms account for about 20% of the global burden of disease, and their ability for resistance development and adaptation to new populations cause a permanent threat. Specific characteristics of infectious diseases, like transmissibility, herd immunity and resistance development, have to be methodologically accounted for in evaluations of interventions or predictions of future burden of disease and epidemics.
Personalized and Precision Medicine
Personalized medicine analyzes physiological and biological information, as well as biomarkers, genetics, proteomics and metabolomics to stratify patients and tailor interventions according to that information. A large amount of data has become available through modern analysis of genetics, proteomics and metabolomics. Methods, as well as research and interpretation frameworks are needed to identify relevant information and evaluate the added value of the new markers. Decision-analytic Modeling and Health Technology Assessment are powerful tools to evaluate personalized screening, diagnosis, prevention and treatment approaches.
Within the Oncotyrol – Center for Personalized Cancer Medicine, we develop, disseminate and implement best practice recommendations on how to integrate personalized interventions into the framework of health technology assessment. In addition, we develop disease-specific, personalized, decision-analytic models to evaluate individualized screening and treatment decisions. We also perform methodological research on the design of personalized medicine trials, complex value-of-information analyses, and causal inference.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and many other diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. This program aims at establishing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary framework for the evaluation of the consequences of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies for CVD patients and society. A particular focus is on systematically optimizing invasive (e.g., fractional flow reserve measurement) and noninvasive (e.g., imaging) diagnostic procedures in CVD.
Research Division for Decision Analysis
Decision analysis is a systematic approach to decision making under uncertainty. It involves choosing an action after weighing the risks, benefits, and costs of the options available to an individual or the population. This program aims to support researchers in planning, conducting and assessing decision-analytic studies, educate in decision-analytic methods, provide a platform for discussing methodological aspects, and improve the quality of decision-analytic research.
Center for Statistical Consulting and Continuing Education
The Center offers consulting on methodological, formal, and practical topics such as form design, choice of statistical methods, data coding and data entry, interpretation of results, and use of statistical software (SPSS, SAS, STATA, etc.), as well as courses in statistics, epidemiology, statistical tests, regression analysis (linear, logistic, Poisson, etc.), survival analysis, meta-analysis/meta-regression, factor analysis and cluster analysis. The center also takes on contract research, for example in developing study protocols, performing data coding, data entry, statistical-epidemiological analysis, and report writing.
HTADS - Continuing Education Program on Health Technology Assessment and Decision Science
Health Technology Assessment (HTA) has been defined by the International Network of Agencies for HTA (INAHTA) as “a multidisciplinary field of policy analysis studying the medical, economic, social, and ethical implications of development, diffusion and use of health technologies (e.g., drugs, devices, surgical procedures, prevention techniques)”. In conducting HTA, the discipline of decision science has become increasingly relevant. Decision Science (DS) is the application of explicit and quantitative methods to analyze decisions under conditions of uncertainty (e.g., meta-analysis, decision-analytic modeling, cost-effectiveness analysis). In recent years, HTA and DS have become very important to healthcare policymakers. In order to keep pace with these developments, the UMIT TIROL – HTADS Program was designed to provide excellent quality education and comprehensive training in the key issues of HTA and DS for anyone involved in the health sector. The course faculty consists of leading international experts drawn from universities, the healthcare industry, HTA agencies and representatives from other relevant areas who are committed to providing independent teaching of state-of-the-art principles.
The Department of Public Health, Health Services Research and Health Technology Assessment hosts a Research Seminar Series in Public Health and Evidence-Based Healthcare for scientists from UMIT TIROL and other research institutions.
Contribution to UMIT TIROL Competence Centers
The Department actively participates in the research foci of the four interdisciplinary Competence Centers across departments, which also have the function of a contact point for collaborations with regional, national and international partners in complex and interdisciplinary health and life sciences projects.
Specific contributions of the Department to these Competence Centers include in particular methodological approaches and more than 20 years of research experience in HTA and causal analyses for the Competence Center "Health Technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI)", the Public Health core subjects and the focus on healthy lifestyles for the Competence Center "Health Promotion, Prevention and Physical Activity", the leading role, good international networking and exchange opportunities for young scientists in the Competence Center "Modeling, Simulation and Decision Making", and the involvement in the acute (COVID-19) and chronic infectious diseases (HIV, HPV, HCV etc. ) in the Competence Center "Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases".