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Article

From Understanding to Impactful Action: Systems Thinking for Systems Change in Chronic Disease Prevention Research

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Menzies Centre for Health Governance, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
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The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, The Sax Institute, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia
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Menzies Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
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School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3125, Australia
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Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada
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Therese Riley Consulting, Melbourne, VIC 3191, Australia
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School of Engineering and Innovation, Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
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Department of Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Leandro Garcia, Ruth Hunter and Jason Thompson
Received: 9 June 2021 / Revised: 8 July 2021 / Accepted: 22 July 2021 / Published: 6 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Practice in Public Health)
Within the field of chronic disease prevention, research efforts have moved to better understand, describe, and address the complex drivers of various health conditions. Change-making is prominent in this paper, and systems thinking and systems change are prioritised as core elements of prevention research. We report how the process of developing a theory of systems change can assist prevention research to progress from understanding systems, towards impactful action within those systems. Based on Foster-Fishman and Watson’s ABLe change framework, a Prevention Systems Change Framework (PSCF) was adapted and applied to an Australian case study of the drivers of healthy and equitable eating as a structured reflective practice. The PSCF comprises four components: building a systemic lens on prevention, holding a continual implementation focus, integrating the systemic lens and implementation focus, and developing a theory of change. Application of the framework as part of a systemic evaluation process enabled a detailed and critical assessment of the healthy and equitable eating project goals and culminated in the development of a theory of prevention systems change specific to that project, to guide future research and action. Arguably, if prevention research is to support improved health outcomes, it must be more explicitly linked to creating systems change. View Full-Text
Keywords: systems thinking; systems change; chronic disease prevention; theory of change; prevention research systems thinking; systems change; chronic disease prevention; theory of change; prevention research
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pescud, M.; Rychetnik, L.; Allender, S.; Irving, M.J.; Finegood, D.T.; Riley, T.; Ison, R.; Rutter, H.; Friel, S. From Understanding to Impactful Action: Systems Thinking for Systems Change in Chronic Disease Prevention Research. Systems 2021, 9, 61. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9030061

AMA Style

Pescud M, Rychetnik L, Allender S, Irving MJ, Finegood DT, Riley T, Ison R, Rutter H, Friel S. From Understanding to Impactful Action: Systems Thinking for Systems Change in Chronic Disease Prevention Research. Systems. 2021; 9(3):61. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9030061

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pescud, Melanie, Lucie Rychetnik, Steven Allender, Michelle J. Irving, Diane T. Finegood, Therese Riley, Ray Ison, Harry Rutter, and Sharon Friel. 2021. "From Understanding to Impactful Action: Systems Thinking for Systems Change in Chronic Disease Prevention Research" Systems 9, no. 3: 61. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9030061

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