Abstract for:Integrating participatory and qualitative insights into dynamic models of oral health disparities

This paper presents a novel application of system dynamics that emphasizes qualitative insights from integrating participatory group model-building activities and rigorous social science methods. This research project involved qualitative analysis of focused group interviews with racial and ethnic minority older adults and development of dynamic models to understand how community programs may contribute to oral health promotion and care-seeking behaviors as adults age. Structured group model-building workshops helped to distill knowledge from previous research and foster collaboration between research team members and community stakeholders that informed the design, implementation, adaptation, and analysis of simulation models in our research portfolio. Because the group model-building and qualitative analysis approaches undertaken were time- and resource-intensive, inefficient and circuitous aspects of the processes were vetted and addressed through subsequent modifications to the exercises. Collaborative construction of causal maps underscored the significance of scale in understanding health disparities and feedback between factors at different scales.