Deakin University

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Success of community-based system dynamics in prevention interventions: A systematic review of the literature

journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-26, 05:08 authored by T Felmingham, Kathryn BackholerKathryn Backholer, Elizabeth HobanElizabeth Hoban, Andrew BrownAndrew Brown, P Nagorcka-Smith, Steven AllenderSteven Allender
Systems thinking approaches are increasingly being used to help communities understand and develop responses to preventing complex health problems. Less is known about how success is characterized and what influences success in these approaches. We present a systematic review of how concepts of success are understood and evaluated in the peer reviewed literature of studies using systems thinking in community prevention. We searched five databases for peer-reviewed literature published between 2000 and 2022, with search terms related to systems thinking, prevention and community. Studies were included if they; reported using community-based systems thinking to prevent a public health problem; described the engagement and empowerment of community members to address a public health issue; and, were published in English. Thirty-four articles were identified from 10 countries. Twenty-one aimed to prevent a chronic disease (e.g., obesity) and 16 measured success using specific tools, 10 of which used semi-structured interviews or surveys. Measures of success included implementation processes, cultural appropriateness, the number or type of actions implemented, effectiveness of community action, and changes in individual thinking or mental models, population health outcomes, data collected, or systems level measures. Implementation factors influencing success included the capacity to engage participants, composition and experience of facilitators, strength of coordination teams, allocation of resources, adaptation to participant feedback, use of multiple systems approaches, workshop process providing time and methods to allow new insights, flexible delivery, and diversity of perspectives. Findings from each of the articles indicated that approaches increased a range of outcomes including community action, strategic thinking, future planning and evaluation, community buy-in, community voice, contribution and leadership, in addition to developing shared visions and goals and creating new, ongoing collaborations, among many others. Measures of success varied, suggesting more empirical reporting of proposed outcomes of system science in communities would be valuable. While the measurement of success in the use of systems thinking in community-based prevention efforts is limited, there are helpful examples we can look to for future measurement of success.



Frontiers in public health














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