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Home > A Transdisciplinary Complex Adaptive Systems (T-CAS) approach to developing a national school-based culture of prevention for health improvement: the School Health Research Network (SHRN) in Wales.

Murphy, Simon and Littlecott, Hannah and Hewitt, Gillian and MacDonald, Sarah and Roberts, Joan and Bishop, Julie and Roberts, Chris and Thurston, Richard and Bishop, Alexa and Moore, Laurence and Moore, Graham (2018) A Transdisciplinary Complex Adaptive Systems (T-CAS) approach to developing a national school-based culture of prevention for health improvement: the School Health Research Network (SHRN) in Wales. Prevention Science . https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-018-0969-3.

URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11121...

The paper reflects on a transdisciplinary complex adaptive systems (T-CAS) approach to the development of a school health research network (SHRN) in Wales for a national culture of prevention for health improvement in schools. A T-CAS approach focuses on key stages and activities within a continuous network cycle to facilitate systems level change. The theory highlights the importance of establishing transdisciplinary strategic partnerships to identify and develop opportunities for system reorientation. Investment in and the linking of resources develops the capacity for key social agents to take advantage of disruption points in the re-orientated system, and engagement activities develop the network to facilitate new social interactions and opportunities for transdisciplinary activities.

A focus on transdisciplinary action research to co-produce interventions, generate research evidence and inform policy and practice is shown to play an important part in developing new normative processes that act to self-regulate the emerging system. Finally, the provision of reciprocal network benefits provides critical feedback loops that stabilise the emerging adaptive system and promote the network cycle. SHRN is shown to have embedded itself in the system by securing sustainability funding from health and education, a key role in national and regional planning and recruiting every eligible school to the network. It has begun to reorient the system to one of evidence generation (56 research studies co-produced) and opportunities for data-led practice at multiple levels. Further capacity development will be required to capitalise on these. The advantages of a complex systems approach to address barriers to change and the transferability of a T-CAS network approach across settings and cultures are highlighted.


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