Dr Melanie Pescud delivered this presentation at the Public Health Association of Australia’s (PHAA’s) annual prevention conference in Brisbane, 11-13 May 2022.
Prevention research efforts have shifted to better understand, describe, and address the complex drivers of chronic health conditions. Systems thinking and systems change are core elements of effective prevention. We outline how developing a ‘theory of systems change’ can assist prevention research to progress from understanding complex systems, towards impactful action within those systems. Adapted from Foster Fishman and Watson’s ABLe change framework, we present an empirically– derived Prevention Systems Change Framework (PSCF). The PSCF can support improved health outcomes by explicitly linking prevention research aspirations to systems change goals. The PSCF comprises four components: building a systemic lens on prevention, holding an implementation focus, integrating the systemic lens a nd implementation focus, and developing a theory of systems change. It can be used to review existing research, or plan prospective work. We illustrate its application in a systemic evaluation and critical assessment of a prevention research project on healthy and equitable eating – in which we develop a theory of systems change to guide future research and action.
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