The Challenges of Putting Systems Thinking into Practice; Comment on “What Can Policy-Makers Get Out of Systems Thinking? Policy Partners’ Experiences of a Systems-Focused Research Collaboration in Preventive Health”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Politics and International Relations, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

2 Human Development and Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK


In theory, ‘systems thinking’ offers a remarkably attractive solution to the persistent challenges of preventive public health. Haynes and colleagues’ recent analysis of the Prevention Centre in Australia offers reason for optimism that it might be possible to translate this promise into action on the ground. In this commentary, we critically assess the claims from this promising case study and their broader applicability to the cause of preventive health. We argue that, in many other contexts, persistent obstacles remain, such as a lack of buy-in from senior policy actors, and a lack of tangible or concrete action following through on an abstract commitment to systems thinking.


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