Systems thinking and complexity: considerations for health promoting schools.

Health promotion international

PubMedID: 26620709

Rosas SR. Systems thinking and complexity: considerations for health promoting schools. Health Promot Int. 2015;.
The health promoting schools concept reflects a comprehensive and integrated philosophy to improving student and personnel health and well-being. Conceptualized as a configuration of interacting, interdependent parts connected through a web of relationships that form a whole greater than the sum of its parts, school health promotion initiatives often target several levels (e. g. individual, professional, procedural and policy) simultaneously. Health promoting initiatives, such as those operationalized under the whole school approach, include several interconnected components that are coordinated to improve health outcomes in complex settings. These complex systems interventions are embedded in intricate arrangements of physical, biological, ecological, social, political and organizational relationships. Systems thinking and characteristics of complex adaptive systems are introduced in this article to provide a perspective that emphasizes the patterns of inter-relationships associated with the nonlinear, dynamic and adaptive nature of complex hierarchical systems. Four systems thinking areas: knowledge, networks, models and organizing are explored as a means to further manage the complex nature of the development and sustainability of health promoting schools. Applying systems thinking and insights about complex adaptive systems can illuminate how to address challenges found in settings with both complicated (i. e. multi-level and multisite) and complex aspects (i. e. synergistic processes and emergent outcomes).