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Taking a systems approach to prevention

What is a systems approach?

A system is a set of interrelated parts that form a whole. A system is not only the sum of its parts, but the product of their interaction.

Systems thinking is a way of finding out what to do in a complex situation. It can help us approach otherwise unmanageable problems by providing:

  • A different perspective (seeing all parts, and their interconnections)
  • Tools and methods that can be used to explore the system, keeping in mind the dynamic nature of the parts and their relationships.

What is particularly useful about a systems approaches is it does not require us to know everything about the system before engaging in problem-solving activities.

Read more about systems

How to use systems

When considering systems work, it is important to first determine the kind of problem you are working with, and choose the approach accordingly.

Read more about simple, complicated and complex problems

How we are using systems thinking

The Prevention Centre is using a systems approach to the prevention of chronic disease. We do this through:

  • Being systematic about prevention
  • Working across different systems to improve health
  • Recognising that prevention action takes place in ecological systems
  • Using systems tools and theories to analyse and improve policy and practice in prevention.

Read more about the Prevention Centre’s approach to systems thinking

More resources on systems thinking

Interested in doing more with systems but not sure where to start, or how? The systems resources section of our website offers a host of different resources to help get you started.

Read more about our systems resources