CDT student paper accepted at the IEEE Big data 2021 Conference

CDT student paper accepted at the IEEE Big data 2021 Conference

Vanja Ljevar, from Horizon CDT’s ninth cohort, has had her paper “Using Model Class Reliance to measure group effects on non-adherence to asthma medication ” accepted to the IEEE Big data 2021 Conference.


Asthma affects an estimated 300 million people across the world. Despite being a highly treatable condition using preventative inhalers, mortality rates remain unacceptably high, with lack of adherence to medications cited as a major cause. While various drivers for non-adherence have been considered in isolation, interactions between demographic, behavioural and situational factors have never been modelled in concert mostly due to the limited ability of traditional methods to group such a large variety of features. This was addressed in this paper through a non-linear modelling approach, leveraging a novel dataset obtained via online surveying of asthma patients. Application of traditional variable importance methods to examine explanatory factors, however, is not possible. This is due to the presence of high multicollinearity in the data, a highly common occurrence in big data, or any datasets which include a large number of input features. This results in insights being obfuscated by extensive shared information and non-linear interactions occurring across variables. To mitigate this, we introduce the first Grouped Feature approach to Model Class Reliance (Group-MCR), that is able to quantify the importance of specific variable sets in underpinning explanations. Cross-validated models achieve 71% accuracy, with Group-MCR revealing the importance of perceptual factors. Out of all the perceptual factors denial proves to be most predictive of non-adherence to asthma medication, indicating that public health interventions should not only target the physical aspects of asthma, but additionally focus on patients’ beliefs and perceptions as valuable parts of their treatment.

Congratulations to Vanja and her colleagues!

Ljevar, V., Goulding, J., Smith, G., Spence, A. (2021). Using Model Class Reliance to Measure Group Effects on Non-Adherence to Asthma Medication. IEEE International Conference on Big Data. December 2021, Online.