Using Systems Thinking for Obesity Prevention and Policy Development
Project Lead: Christine Siokou, PhD
This project has allowed the investigators to pilot a developmental approach to capacity building for systems thinking with health promotion practitioners based in local government and community health organizations in Victoria, Australia.
Building on a collaboration with co-applicant Dr. Hovmand, the workshop has been delivered in four different local government sites and we have utilized scripts, presentations and group model building methods.
Our aim was to enable participants (practitioners and policy makers) to map their local system and identify leverage points in order to ascertain what policy and environmental changes are worth pursuing to address childhood obesity.
Immediate aims of the project have been to determine if a workshop approach and the set of systems thinking tools and concepts it brings can:
- Build practitioner capacity to ‘think systems’
- Help practitioners identify leverage points for change across multiple levels of the system, including policies and environmental processes for preventing childhood obesity
- Conducted four introductory systems thinking workshops in four different geographical sites in Victoria Australia, with 44 health promotion practitioners.
- Provided geographical sites with a report that contained local evaluation of workshop.
- Conducted follow up evaluation 3 months after workshop including four follow-up key informant interviews and two focus groups with practitioners in intervention sites.
- Conducted two focus groups in comparison sites.
- Our results indicate that the workshops helped to demystify systems thinking concepts and the vast majority reported that the workshop was engaging, increased their knowledge and shared commitment to action but more intensive training is needed.
- Siokou, C. (2014) ‘Using systems thinking concepts and processes to guide obesity prevention practice and policy development’ 2nd Biennial Australian Implementation Conference, Sept 17-19th, Sydney
- Siokou, C., Morgan, R., Shiell, A. (2014) Group model building: a participatory approach to understanding and acting on systems. Public Health Res Practice. 25(1):e2511404
To learn more, please email the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins here.