Modeling accessibility of screening and treatment facilities for older adults using transportation networks

Qiuyi Zhang, Mary E. Northridge, Zhu Jin, Sara S. Metcalf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Increased lifespans and population growth have resulted in an older U.S. society that must reckon with the complex oral health needs that arise as adults age. Understanding accessibility to screening and treatment facilities for older adults is necessary in order to provide them with preventive and restorative services. This study uses an agent-based model to examine the accessibility of screening and treatment facilities via transportation networks for older adults living in the neighborhoods of northern Manhattan, New York City. Older adults are simulated as socioeconomically distinct agents who move along a GIS-based transportation network using transportation modes that mediate their access to screening and treatment facilities. This simulation model includes four types of mobile agents as a simplifying assumption: walk, by car, by bus, or by van (i.e., a form of transportation assistance for older adults). These mobile agents follow particular routes: older adults who travel by car, bus, and van follow street roads, whereas pedestrians follow walkways. The model enables the user to focus on one neighborhood at a time for analysis. The spatial dimension of an older adult's accessibility to screening and treatment facilities is simulated through the travel costs (indicated by travel time or distance) incurred in the GIS-based model environment, where lower travel costs to screening and treatment facilities imply better access. This model provides a framework for representing health-seeking behavior that is contextualized by a transportation network in a GIS environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-75
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018



  • Accessibility
  • Agent-based modeling
  • Geographic information science
  • Transportation network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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