Epidemiology and Infection

Gastrointestinal infection

Eliciting expert opinion on the effectiveness and practicality of interventions in the farm and rural environment to reduce human exposure to Escherichia coli O157


a1 School of the Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd, UK

a2 Economics, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK


Few hard data are available on emergent diseases. However, the need to mitigate and manage emergent diseases has prompted the use of various expert consultation and opinion elicitation methods. We adapted best-worst scaling (BWS) to elicit experts' assessment of the relative practicality and effectiveness of measures to reduce human exposure to E. coli O157. Cattle vaccination was considered the most effective and hand-washing was considered the most practical measure. BWS proved a powerful tool for expert elicitation as it breaks down a cognitively burdensome process into simple, repeated, tasks. In addition, statistical analysis of the resulting data provides a scaled set of scores for the measures, rather than just a ranking. The use of two criteria (practicality and effectiveness) within the BWS process allows the identification of subsets of measures judged as potentially performing well on both criteria, and conversely those judged to be neither effective nor practical.

(Accepted June 08 2011)

(Online publication July 07 2011)