Validation workflow for a clinical Bayesian network model in multidisciplinary decision making in head and neck oncology treatment
Oncological treatment is being increasingly complex, and therefore, decision making in multidisciplinary teams is becoming the key activity in the clinical pathways. The increased complexity is related to the number and variability of possible treatment decisions that may be relevant to a patient. In this paper, we describe validation of a multidisciplinary cancer treatment decision in the clinical domain of head and neck oncology.
Probabilistic graphical models and corresponding inference algorithms, in the form of Bayesian networks, can support complex decision-making processes by providing a mathematically reproducible and transparent advice. The quality of BN-based advice depends on the quality of the model. Therefore, it is vital to validate the model before it is applied in practice.
For an example BN subnetwork of laryngeal cancer with 303 variables, we evaluated 66 patient records. To validate the model on this dataset, a validation workflow was applied in combination with quantitative and qualitative analyses. In the subsequent analyses, we observed four sources of imprecise predictions: incorrect data, incomplete patient data, outvoting relevant observations, and incorrect model. Finally, the four problems were solved by modifying the data and the model.
The presented validation effort is related to the model complexity. For simpler models, the validation workflow is the same, although it may require fewer validation methods. The validation success is related to the model’s well-founded knowledge base. The remaining laryngeal cancer model may disclose additional sources of imprecise predictions.
KeywordsTherapy decision support system Bayesian network Model validation Laryngeal cancer Head and neck oncology Multidisciplinary tumor board
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