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Wietmarschen, H. van, H.M. Wortelboer and J. van der Greef. 2018. Grip on health: A complex systems approach to transform health care. J Eval Clin Pract. 24(1):269-277.

Number of pages: 9

DOI: 10.1111/jep.12679

Type of document: Journal Article

More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Herman van Wietmarschen, PhD


Language of document: English

Title in English: Grip on health: A complex systems approach to transform health care

Abstract / summary in English:

This article addresses the urgent need for a transition in health care to deal with the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and associated rapid rise of health care costs. Chronic diseases evolve and are predominantly related to lifestyle and environment. A shift is needed from a reductionist repair mode of thinking, toward a more integrated biopsychosocial way of thinking about health. The aim of this article is to discuss the opportunities that complexity science offer for transforming health care toward optimal treatment and prevention of chronic lifestyle diseases. Health and health care is discussed from a complexity science perspective. The benefits of concepts developed in the field of complexity science for stimulating transitions in health care are explored. Complexity science supports the elucidation of the essence of health processes. It provides a unique perspective on health with a focus on the relationships within networks of dynamically interacting factors and the emergence of health out of the organization of those relationships. Novel types of complexity science–based intervention strategies are being developed. The first application in practice is the integrated obesity treatment program currently piloted in the Netherlands, focusing on health awareness and healing relationships. Complexity science offers various theories and methods to capture the path toward unhealthy and healthy states, facilitating the development of a dynamic integrated biopsychosocial perspective on health. This perspective offers unique insights into health processes for patients and citizens. In addition, dynamic models driven by personal data provide simulations of health processes and the ability to detect transitions between health states. Such models are essential for aligning and reconnecting the many institutions and disciplines involved in the health care sector and evolve toward an integrated health care ecosystem.


Keywords in English: Health care, patient-centered care, public health
Grip on health: A complex systems approach to transform health care