A Crash Course in PAFs

Public health is all about keeping a population happy, healthy and alive.

When people in public health want to change the behaviour of a population, they need to demonstrate that it will indeed make the population happier and healthier as a whole. The best way to do this is with a measure that combines how risky a behaviour is and how prevalent that behaviour is throughout the population. After all, if a behaviour isn’t risky at all, then changing it won’t do any good. Similarly, if no one in the population has developed a behaviour, then no matter how risky that behaviour is, trying to change it in the population won’t do any good.

But what if we have a behaviour that is both risky and prevalent in the population? That’s where we find the Population Attributable Fraction (PAF) to be a useful measure.

Ian Powell

University of New South Wales

Ian is a fourth-year student at UNSW Sydney, where he is undertaking a Bachelor of Advanced Science, majoring in Mathematics, Statistics, and Molecular and Cell Biology. His research interests include applying probability and statistics, with a particular focus on biochemistry and public health. In his spare time, Ian participates in the university aikido club, has a passion for singing musical theatre, and enjoys the production and consumption of baked goods.

Ian Powell was a recipient of a 2018/19 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.

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