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Complexity Science Knowledge Synthesis

Results of the CIHR funded knowledge synthesis grant. Marjorie McDonald, Principle Investigator
by

Wanda Martin

on 19 November 2012

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Transcript of Complexity Science Knowledge Synthesis

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli In Brief Complexity Science A collection of theories and conceptual tools from an array of disciplines What is it? Public health professionals deal with complex issues and scenarios daily . Why do I need to know it? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What advantages are there
to my work? Complexity science is an emerging approach, but practical applications do exist and have been used. How do I do it? Concerned with complex systems and problems that are are dynamic, unpredictable and multi-dimensional, consisting of a collection of interconnected relationships and parts. Unlike traditional “cause and effect” or linear thinking, complexity science is characterized by non-linearity. There is an appreciation of the complex, dynamic and interconnected relationships occurring within a complex system or problem. The public health system has been described as a complex system, being dynamic, non-linear and comprised of independent but interconnected parts. In order to improve public and population health, it is essential to understand the complex systems and problems involved. To understand failure in complex systems, we need to think about how things are related and how they are influenced by larger systems of pressures, constraints, and expectations. Instead of responding to public health issues and problems with a traditional simplistic or reductionist approach, complexity science provides an approach that acknowledges and embraces the challenge of complexity. If public health professionals embrace complex systems thinking, solutions can be designed to address the complex challenges that public health professionals continually face. As part of a meta-narrative synthesis, we developed a list of resources that have a practical application for public health professionals. The document is not exhaustive, but a beginning direction for applying complexity science methods.

You can find the full document titled "Complexity Science Knowledge Synthesis Resources" at www.uvic.ca/cphfri. What are the resources? We identified 30 methods/approaches to applying complexity science to public health.
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