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International Futures Help System

Proximate Drivers and Risk-Specific Population Attributable Fractions


Although mortality can be calculated solely from distal drivers such as income and education, it is better to calculate it from proximate or more immediate factors, such as undernutrition or exposure to pollutants. But IFs, and perhaps any model, will never be able to represent all such proximate drivers.  Hence there is value in having an approach that combines the use of distal and proximate drivers, supplementing and adjusting the distal-driver based approach whenever possible. 

The figure below shows such a combination. Each proximate driver (and there are many different ones in IFs, in spite of the generalized representation in the figure) can be associated with a fraction of the mortality of a society.  That population attributable fraction or PAF (derivative from the risk exposure level relative to a theoretical risk minimum) can be used to adjust the mortality associated with any cause that would have an implicit risk-related mortality built into the distal driver formulation.  IFs makes those implicit distal-driver associated risk levels explicit by using the distal drivers to identify a risk level that would be expected based on cross-sectional analysis using the distal drivers.  That allows the computation of a distal-driver based PAF. In similar fashion a PAF can be calculated that relates an exposure level to the risk, calculated mostly elsewhere in IFs (such as in the food and agriculture model for undernutrition of children) to a PAF.

proximate overview flowcharts

The complication mathematically lies in the interaction of (1) the distal-driver and proximate risk-based PAFs and (2) the multiple specific-risk PAFs, because avoidance of death from one will generally increase the risk of death from others.  See the equations associated with PAFs for details.

Among the specific risk factors treated in IFs are overly high body mass indices and associated obesity,  undernutrition of children, access to unsafe water and sanitation, indoor use of solid fuels, and levels or urban air particulates.