Accepted Paper:

Calculating, Reshuffling and Translating Population Data: Epidemiological Risk Scores as Accounting Devices  

Authors:

Susanne Bauer (University of Oslo)
Katrin Amelang (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution will explore emerging issues at the intersection between STS and public health. It does so by following the production, circulation, adaptation, and renegotiation of an epidemiological algorithm.

Paper long abstract:

This contribution will explore emerging issues at the intersection between STS and public health. It does so by following the production, circulation, adaptation, and renegotiation of an epidemiological algorithm. As algorithms derived from population studies risk scores have become key elements of "evidence-based prevention". They are tools that calculate individual risk estimates of disease and predict these probabilities on the basis of large epidemiological studies. We follow a risk score ethnographically through several sites to provide empirical insights into the ways in which personal data is translated into population data and vice versa. This paper explores the folding in and of a risk score, in terms of counting, reshuffling and translating population data for a score that is used in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Germany. In order to tease out how accountability is produced we will sketch out the multiple layers of a risk score, by examining how accountability is done in risk scoring: First, we will examine the production of the score, the making and doing of population as a resource for evidence. Second, we will inspect the level of the doctor-patient-relation, when enacting the individual by computing and communicating the actual individual probabilities derived from population data. Third, we will explore how risk scores enter health care policy and thus the agendas and accountings as well as ideas about good healthcare of statutory health insurance funds, medical guidelines, family doctors and professional associations of general practitioners.

Panel T137
From person to population and back: exploring accountability in public health