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A modified TOPSIS (Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution) applied to choosing appropriate selection methods in ongoing surveillance for Avian Influenza in Canada

To achieve an appropriate and efficient sample in a surveillance program, the goals of the program should drive a careful consideration of the selection method or combination of selection methods to be applied. Therefore, the ongoing analysis and assessment of a surveillance system may include an assessment of the ability of the applied selection methods to generate an appropriate sample. There may be opinions from many technical experts (TEs) and many criteria to consider in a surveillance system so there is a need for methods to combine knowledge, priorities and preferences from a group of TEs. This paper proposes a modified weighted and unweighted TOPSIS (Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution) analysis to choose selection methods in surveillance. An example from the Canadian Notifiable Avian Influenza surveillance (CanNAISS) is used to illustrate the method as this surveillance offers unique data with multiple selection methods and subpopulations. The primary objective was to assess the performance of the different selection methods applied in CanNAISS, from 2008 to 2013, in three subpopulations (A-C). A modified TOPSIS (weighted and unweighted) analyses is proposed to aggregate preferences from three TEs and to identify the selection method that was closest to the ideal solution agreed upon by the TEs. Criteria weights were provided individually by three TEs. For the group decision making, internal and external aggregation approaches were used with arithmetic and geometric means. The results of the weighted modified TOPSIS analysis showed that the selection methods that used farm registries yielded high estimates of the relative closeness to ideal-solution. The ranking of selection methods based on the modified TOPSIS weighted analysis, conducted at the individual and group decision making levels were similar. Regardless of the aggregation approach used (internal or external) in group decision making, the use of the arithmetic and geometric means yielded similar estimates of relative closeness to ideal-solution. The unweighted modified TOPSIS analysis yielded similar estimates of the relative closeness to the ideal-solution and therefore making the interpretation of the results difficult. The weighted modified TOPSIS analysis contributed to an informed decision on the best selection method to apply in CanNAISS. The weighted modified TOPSIS analysis is a straightforward and suitable technique to address decision making problems where the profile of the ideal and non-ideal solutions is known a priori by the decision makers.

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