Applying complex systems methods to health research


Førde, 27 February 2018, 09-15. HVL main building (room: Nygaard). 

Registrer here

The workshop is for researchers who want a broader and deeper understanding of complexity and system thinking, and will provide an introduction to appropriate conceptual models and research methods for research and evaluation within complex systems. A certificate of participation (6 h) will be provided , that might qualify into a PhD - or "førstelektor"-programme.


The workshop will include:

  • Group discussions to explore these themes further
  • Explanation and illustration of system mapping using international case studies
  • An introduction to system mapping using an online tool
  • Development of case studies to explore the ways in which complex systems thinking would enhance traditional research approaches
  • An open discussion format with collaborative exploration of the themes
  • Coffee!  

Harry Rutter is a professor II in public health at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
  • His main position is at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which is a world leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health.
  • Professor Rutter was the founder director of the National Obesity Observatory 2007 - 2011. He led the establishment of the Department of Health National Child Measurement Programme, and is a core contributor to the WHO Health Economic Assessment Tool for Walking and Cycling.
  • He leads a workstream on the application of complex systems approaches to public health research, and has published widely on the topic.



In order to try out system mapping we will use the software Kumu that works entirely within your web browser. Thus, you do not have to install anything — just register for a 14 d free account (make sure it is valid on the 27. February).


Reccomended Reading


• Rutter H, Savona N, Glonti K, Bibby J, Cummins S, Finegood DT, et al. The need for a complex systems model of evidence for public health. The Lancet. 2017

• Meadows D. Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Hartland, Vermont: The Sustainability Institute; 1999

• Chapman J. System Failure. London: Demos; 2002

• Finegood DT, Merth TD, Rutter H. Implications of the foresight obesity system map for solutions to childhood obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18 Suppl 1:S13-6

• Peters DH. The application of systems thinking in health: why use systems thinking? Health Research Policy and Systems. 2014;12(1):51

• Hawe P, Shiell A, Riley T. Theorising interventions as events in systems. Am J Community Psychol. 2009;43(3-4):267-76

• Resnicow, K. and S. E. Page (2008). "Embracing chaos and complexity: a quantum change for public health." Am J Public Health 98(8): 1382-1389

• Allender, S., et al. (2015). "A Community Based Systems Diagram of Obesity Causes." PLoS One 10(7): e0129683

• Evaluation Support Scotland guidance on logic models: