Qualitative System Dynamics Modeling to Support Community Planning in Opioid Overdose Prevention*

Nasim S. Sabounchi, David W. Lounsbury, Pulwasha Iftikhar, Priscila Lutete, Biljana Trajkoska, Weanne Myrrh Estrada, Nabila El-Bassel, Bruce Rapkin, Louisa Gilbert, Timothy Hunt, Dawn A. Goddard-Eckrich, Daniel J. Feaster, Terry T.K. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We aimed to help community stakeholders develop a shared understanding of the opioid crisis through qualitative system dynamics (SD) modeling to inform local strategies for prevention and treatment. Methods: As part of the HEALing Communities Study-New York State, we used secondary qualitative data from community stakeholder interviews and coalition meeting notes to develop qualitative SD models that elucidate the interdependencies and feedback structures underlying the opioid epidemic in each community. Results: The synthesized model revealed multiple balancing and reinforcing feedback loops that influenced the adoption and reach of evidence-based practices to reduce opioid overdose and fatality. Conclusion: SD modeling is a novel approach to helping community stakeholders to see the inter-connectedness of actors, factors and sectors and the need for multiple mutually reinforcing strategies to avert opioid overdose and fatality. Social workers could play a key role in linking actions across sectors in such a complex system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • community action planning
  • opioid overdose
  • system dynamics modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)


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