An Introductory Tutorial on Cohort State-Transition Models in R Using a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Example


Decision models can combine information from different sources to simulate the long-term consequences of alternative strategies in the presence of uncertainty. A cohort state-transition model (cSTM) is a decision model commonly used in medical decision making to simulate the transitions of a hypothetical cohort among various health states over time. This tutorial focuses on time-independent cSTM, in which transition probabilities among health states remain constant over time. We implement time-independent cSTM in R, an open-source mathematical and statistical programming language. We illustrate time-independent cSTMs using a previously published decision model, calculate costs and effectiveness outcomes, and conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of multiple strategies, including a probabilistic sensitivity analysis. We provide open-source code in R to facilitate wider adoption. In a second, more advanced tutorial, we illustrate time-dependent cSTMs.