Analyzing client behavior in a syringe exchange program

Haoxiang Yang*, Yue Hu, David Morton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple syringe exchange programs serve the Chicago metropolitan area, providing support for drug users to help prevent infectious diseases. Using data from one program over a ten-year period, we study the behavior of its clients, focusing on the temporal process governing their visits to service locations and on their demographics. We construct a phase-type distribution with an affine relationship between model parameters and features of an individual client. The phase-type distribution governs inter-arrival times between reoccurring visits of each client and is informed by characteristics of a client including age, gender, ethnicity, and more. The inter-arrival time model is a sub-model in a simulation that we construct for the larger system, which allows us to provide a personalized prediction regarding the client’s time-to-return to a service location so that better intervention decisions can be made with the help of simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-157
Number of pages16
JournalIISE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • Syringe exchange program
  • discrete-event simulation
  • personalized prediction
  • phase-type distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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