Instructor: David Schuff, Section 003

Systems Thinking in Public Health

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Health practitioners’ capacity to understand and think through complex challenges can be enhanced through the use of systems thinking tools. Utilizing systems thinking tools such as BOT or Behavior Over Time graphs along with data from other systems across the healthcare industry can aid in the overall improvement of public health. These tools allow for health practitioners to not only analyze trends, but also analyze the events and systematic forces that play into the development of such trends. Additionally, systems thinking in this way creates the opportunity for health practitioners to discuss freely and creatively, therefore providing a more holistic, deeper understanding of trends in public health. BOT graphs are also useful tools in advancing the systems-level thinking in public health. Studies show systems thinking in public health also increases the engagement of stakeholders surrounding these issues. In my opinion, by applying system thinking, health practitioners can enhance their ability to analyze trends in public health and allow for a heightened sense of creativity surrounding their proposed solutions to these trends. A question I would like to pose is: in addition to BOT graphs and analysis, how else could systems thinking be useful in public health? Is it purely advantageous in an analytical sense, or are there other benefits to systems thinking in public health?



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