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Plos One

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System theory -- modeling


Cancer prevention and control requires consideration of complex interactions between multilevel factors. System dynamics modeling, which consists of diagramming and simulation approaches for understanding and managing such complexity, is being increasingly applied to cancer prevention and control, but the breadth, characteristics, and quality of these studies is not known. We searched PubMed, Scopus, APA PsycInfo, and eight peer-reviewed journals to identify cancer-related studies that used system dynamics modeling. A dual review process was used to determine eligibility. Included studies were assessed using quality criteria adapted from prior literature and mapped onto the cancer control continuum. Characteristics of studies and models were abstracted and qualitatively synthesized. 32 studies met our inclusion criteria. A mix of simulation and diagramming approaches were used to address diverse topics, including chemotherapy treatments (16%), interventions to reduce tobacco or e-cigarettes use (16%), and cancer risk from environmental contamination (13%). Models spanned all focus areas of the cancer control continuum, with treatment (44%), prevention (34%), and detection (31%) being the most common. The quality assessment of studies was low, particularly for simulation approaches. Diagramming-only studies more often used participatory approaches. Involvement of participants, description of model development processes, and proper calibration and validation of models showed the greatest room for improvement. System dynamics modeling can illustrate complex interactions and help identify potential interventions across the cancer control continuum. Prior efforts have been hampered by a lack of rigor and transparency regarding model development and testing. Supportive infrastructure for increasing awareness, accessibility, and further development of best practices of system dynamics for multidisciplinary cancer research is needed.


Copyright: © 2023 Kenzie et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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