Complex systems

CS-logoPublic health issues are increasingly described as complex or ‘wicked’ because they are often deeply embedded in the fabric of society and prove challenging to address. Complex systems thinking takes into account the context of public health problems. It considers the various levels on which public health can be addressed (local, regional, national and international), and the range of sectors involved (health, education, housing, leisure, etc.).

The Complex Systems research programme cuts across Fuse’s research programmes by aiming to develop initiatives that bridge research, policy and action. The Programme covers a range of topics, including decision making for commissioning, food policy, community care for chronic illnesses, and implementation of Europe’s Health 2020 policy framework.

It has two principal themes:

  • Understanding health systems undergoing transformational change and their impact on populations.
  • Evaluating public health policies intended to improve health and wellbeing.

The Complex Systems research programme objectives are to:

  • Explore the nature of transformational change in complex health systems with a view to identifying the key factors that can aid and sustain change over time.
  • Evaluate the effects on people’s health and health inequalities of the new arrangements for public health commissioning and service delivery in England, including the enhanced role of local government, health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
  • Assess the effectiveness of tools and techniques used by commissioners to prioritise public health issues, and how any barriers identified may be overcome.
  • Develop a programme of work informing and evaluating UK public health policies.

The programme aligns with the NIHR School for Public Health Research themes: Children, young people & families; Places & communities; and Public mental health, and its cross-cutting themes: Changing behaviour at a population level; Inequalities; and Efficient & equitable public health systems.

Professor Luke Vale - Programme co-lead, Newcastle University

Joanne Gray - Programme co-lead, Northumbria University

Steph Scott, Programme co-lead, Newcastle University

Fuse Complex Systems Research Programme strategy PDF 734Kb

Fuse Complex Systems Research Programme strategy

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