Applied Systems Thinking for Health Systems and Public Health Research

2009 Concepts

2012 Strategies

2014 Applications

2017 Methods









Jointly organised by the Centre for Evaluation, the Health Systems Research Group in the GHD and the Centre for Global Chronic Conditions 

Date: Monday 26th March 2018
Time: 9.00 – 16.00
Venue: John Snow Lecture Theatre, Keppel Street, LSHTM


Health systems are characterised by extraordinary complexity in relationships among stakeholders and the processes they create. Systems phenomena of massive interdependencies, organising and emergent behaviour, non-linearity and lagged feedback loops, path dependence and tipping points make health system behaviour difficult and sometimes impossible to predict or manage. Conventional reductionist approaches to public health and health systems research are inadequate for tackling the problems health systems pose. It is increasingly recognized that we need in public health a special set of approaches, methods and tools that derive from systems thinking perspectives.

This full day event at LSHTM examined various innovative systems thinking methodologies that can be used. The recordings from each session are available online.


Session 1        –  available to watch online here
System Thinking in Health Systems Research Don de Savigny
Complexity and Cynefin Dave Snowden
Complex systems approaches to public health research, policy and practice Harry Rutter
Using qualitative methods in complex systems research Natalie Savona
Panel discussion All speakers
Session 2        –  available to watch online here
Soft systems methodology Kathy Kotiadis
Rapid appraisal methods which seek to capture complexity Dina Balabanova
Process re-engineering to manage complexity Don de Savigny
Developing systems thinking for health Martin Reynolds
Panel discussion All speakers
Session 3        –  available to watch online here
Social Network Analysis  Karl Blanchet
Causal mediation analysis Josephine Borghi
Mathematical methods for modelling complex dynamic systems Zaid Chalabi
Panel discussion All speakers
Summing up Don de Savigny