Guynn I, Simon J, Anderson S, Klaman SL, Mullenix A, Cilenti D, Hassmiller Lich K. Tools for supporting the MCH Workforce in addressing complex challenges: a scoping review of system dynamics modeling in maternal and child health. Matern Child Health J. 2022 Aug;26(Suppl 1):S176-203. doi: 10.1007/s10995-022-03376-8

OBJECTIVES: System Dynamics (SD) is a promising decision support modeling approach for growing shared understanding of complex maternal and child health (MCH) trends. We sought to inventory published applications of SD to MCH topics and introduce the MCH workforce to these approaches through examples to support further iteration and use.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic search (1958-2018) for applications of SD to MCH topics and characterized identified articles, following PRISMA guidelines. Pairs of experts abstracted information on SD approach and MCH relevance.

RESULTS: We identified 101 articles describing applications of SD to MCH topics.

APPROACH: 27 articles present qualitative diagrams, 10 introduce concept models that begin to quantify dynamics, and 67 present more fully tested/analyzed models.

PURPOSE: The most common purposes described were to increase understanding (n = 55) and support strategic planning (n = 26). While the majority of studies (n = 53) did not involve stakeholders, 40 included what we considered to be a high level of stakeholder engagement - a strength of SD for MCH. Topics: The two Healthy People 2020 topics addressed most frequently were early and middle childhood (n = 30) and access to health services (n = 26). The most commonly addressed SDG goals were "End disease epidemics" (n = 26) and "End preventable deaths" (n = 26).

CONCLUSIONS FOR PRACTICE: While several excellent examples of the application of SD in MCH were found, SD is still underutilized in MCH. Because SD is particularly well-suited to studying and addressing complex challenges with stakeholders, its expanded use by the MCH workforce could inform an understanding of contemporary MCH challenges.

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