About this Course
This course provides an introduction to systems thinking and systems models in public health. Problems in public health and health policy tend to be complex with many actors, institutions and risk factors involved. If an outcome depends on many interacting and adaptive parts and actors the outcome cannot be analyzed or predicted with traditional statistical methods. Systems thinking is a core skill in public health and helps health policymakers build programs and policies that are aware of and prepared for unintended consequences. An important part of systems thinking is the practice to integrate multiple perspectives and synthesize them into a framework or model that can describe and predict the various ways in which a system might react to policy change. Systems thinking and systems models devise strategies to account for real world complexities. This work was coordinated by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, the World Health Organization, with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. Additional support was provided by the Department for International Development (DFID) through a grant (PO5467) to Future Health Systems research consortium. © World Health Organization 2014 All rights reserved. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the World Health Organization concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Dotted and dashed lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement. The mention of specific companies or of certain manufacturers’ products does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by the World Health Organization in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. Errors and omissions excepted, the names of proprietary products are distinguished by initial capital letters. All reasonable precautions have been taken by the World Health Organization to verify the information contained in this publication. However, the published material is being distributed without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of the material lies with the reader. In no event shall the World Health Organization be liable for damages arising from its use. Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health has a non-exclusive license to use and reproduce the material.
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100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 weeks of study, 4-5 hours/week
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English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 weeks of study, 4-5 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Introduction to Systems Thinking and Complex Adaptive Systems

This module introduces the basics of systems thinking and the rationale for using a systems approach to solve public health problems in complex adaptive systems. ...
Reading
8 videos (Total 98 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Video: Introduction to Systems Thinking1m
Lecture 1A: Why Use Systems Thinking13m
Lecture 1B: Health Systems Applications of CAS: Health Systems Frameworks and the Problem of Implementation20m
Lecture 1C: CAS Pathways: The Problem of Scaling Up19m
Lecture 1D: Where Systems Thinking Helps: Understanding the Types of Problems, Theories, Methods, and Tools21m
Lecture 2A: Systems Thinking In Practice - Understanding and Engaging with Stakeholders7m
Lecture 2B: Network Analysis, Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis, and Summary10m
Reading6 readings
Syllabus10m
Module Learning Objectives10m
The Application of Systems Thinking in Public Health - David Peters (2014)10m
When solutions of yesterday become problems of today - Agyepong et al 201210m
Individual‐based Computational Modeling of Smallpox Epidemic Control Strategies - Burke et al (2006)10m
Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network - Fowler and Christakis (2008)10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz Module 120m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

System Conceptualization Using Causal Loop Diagrams

This module will introduce you to the concepts of causal loop diagrams and how they can be used in participatory research. You will also be introduced to the software Vensim that allows you to draw causal loop diagrams....
Reading
8 videos (Total 75 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Lecture 3A: System Conceptualization and Mapping: Introduction to Causal Loop Diagrams6m
Lecture 3B: Causal Loop Diagrams: Basic Components10m
Lecture 3C: Causal Loop Diagrams: Sources of Data, Strengths, and Weaknesses12m
Lecture 4A: Introduction to Community-Based Causal Mapping Workshop12m
Lecture 4B: Community-Based Causal Mapping Workshop Part 17m
Lecture 4C: Community-Based Causal Mapping Workshop Part 29m
Tutorial 1: Developing causal loop diagrams using Vensim15m
Reading6 readings
Module Learning Objectives10m
Exploring dual practice and its management in Uganda - Paina et al (2014)10m
Advancing the application of systems thinking in health - Rwashana et al (2014)10m
Vensim User Manual10m
Scriptapedia & Original Scripts for Practice Workshop10m
Simplified Variable Elicitation Script10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz Module 220m

3

Section
Clock
5 hours to complete

System Dynamics Simulation Using Stock-and-Flow Diagrams

This module will introduce you to the concepts of systems dynamics modeling and will show you how to use Vensim to run a pre-existing system dynamics model....
Reading
13 videos (Total 159 min), 11 readings, 1 quiz
Video13 videos
Lecture 5A: Using Stock and Flow Principles for Simulation5m
Lecture 5B: Defining Stocks12m
Lecture 5C: Flow and Control Variables12m
Lecture 6A: Case Example: Application of Stock and Flow Diagrams to Public Health22m
Lecture 6B: Advanced Model of Volume and Quality10m
Lecture 6C: Advanced Model: Cure and Prevention Model24m
Tutorial 2: Tutorial on How To Develop Stock-and-Flow Diagrams Using Vensim13m
Lecture 7A: Analysis Using Agent-Based Models: Trying Things Out9m
Lecture 7B: Breakdown of the Agent-Based Approach15m
Lecture 7C: Case Study of Epidemic Modeling14m
Tutorial 3A: How to use agent-based models for scenario-building using Netlogo7m
Tutorial 3B: How to use agent-based models for scenario-building using Netlogo9m
Reading11 readings
Module Learning Objectives10m
Vensim Model I - Example Stock and Flow Diagram: Technical Quality10m
Vensim Model II - Example stock and flow diagram: Quality of services10m
Vensim Model III - Performance Based Financing10m
Vensim Model IV - Effect of lobying10m
Advancing the application of systems thinking in public health - Bishai et all (2014)10m
Vensim User Manual (same link as above)10m
ReThink Health Dynamics - Homer et al (2012)10m
Module Learning Objectives10m
How to do agent-based simulations in the future - Helbing and Balietti (2011)10m
Netlogo User Manual10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz Module 320m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Practical and policy implications

This Module wraps up the course and shows you how systems thinking can contribute to policy making....
Reading
6 videos (Total 42 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Lecture 8A: How Systems Thinking Can Contribute to Policy Decision Making9m
Lecture 8B: Systems Thinking in Top-Down Policymaking13m
Lecture 8C: Systems Thinking in Bottom-Up Policymaking10m
Lecture 8D: Integration and Summary4m
Conclusion Video3m
Reading1 readings
Module Learning Objectives10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz Module 420m
4.6
Direction Signs

40%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By CMFeb 5th 2017

It was a great course tat not only teaches you the theory behind systems thinking but it also teaches you how to use some tools (software) to use systems thinking approach to solve problems.

By VSMar 12th 2018

The course is one of the best that I've attended on Coursera. This will be highly useful in my current course "Healthcare Operations Management" that I am offering for MBA students in India.

Instructors

Avatar

Ligia Paina, PhD

Assistant Scientist

About Johns Hopkins University

The mission of The Johns Hopkins University is to educate its students and cultivate their capacity for life-long learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world....

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