Developing an agent-based model of oral healthcare utilization by Chinese Americans in New York City

Qiuyi Zhang, Sara S. Metcalf, Harvey D. Palmer, Mary E. Northridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many Chinese Americans experience certain barriers (e.g., low income, English as a second language, lack of insurance, cultural differences, discrimination) when they seek oral healthcare services. These barriers may contribute to health disparities by discouraging use (leading to reduced utilization) of preventive and treatment services. This research adopts a modeling approach to develop theory that accounts for dynamic relationships operating at multiple levels, from individuals to families to communities. A multi-method and multi-level modeling approach allows for the interaction of factors at different levels of aggregation. This research applies spatially explicit agent-based modeling to examine how demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic factors shape access to oral healthcare for low-income Chinese Americans in New York City. The simulation model developed in this research was used to test different intervention scenarios involving community health workers who facilitate care coordination and other health promotion activities. In addition to demographic characteristics and socioeconomic factors, this study also considers geographic factors and spatial behavior, such as distance and activity space. The overarching contribution of this study is to provide a complex systems science framework to better understand access to oral healthcare for urban Chinese Americans, toward adapting it for other racial/ethnic minority groups, by integrating health-seeking behaviors at the individual level, barriers to care at multiple levels, and opportunities for health promotion at the community level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102740
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Agent-based simulation model
  • Chinese americans
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Health disparity
  • Healthcare utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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