GSL Investigators Chloe Clifford Astbury and Tarra Penney have published a new study in the International Journal of Health Policy and Management which highlights the importance of using systems thinking and complexity science methods in the policy process for non-communicable disease prevention.
The study, titled “Systems Thinking and Complexity Science Methods and the Policy Process in Non-communicable Disease Prevention: A Systematic Scoping Review,” is a systematic scoping review. The evidence from the review informed the development of guidance published by the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring systems thinking for non-communicable disease prevention policy approaches into practice. The authors found that incorporating systems thinking and complexity science (STCS) methods can help policymakers better understand the complex interactions between various factors that contribute to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
According to the WHO, NCDs are responsible for 71% of all deaths globally, with the majority of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. The prevention and control of NCDs requires a multi-sectoral approach that addresses the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.
The study identifies several systems thinking and complexity science methods that can be useful in the policy process, including causal loop diagrams, agent-based modeling, and network analysis. The researchers suggest that STCS methods have the potential to generate tailored and dynamic evidence, adding robustness to evidence-informed policy-making, but must be accessible to policy stakeholders and have strong stakeholder ownership to build consensus and change stakeholder perspectives.
To learn more about the systematic review, read the study here.