Category: Systems Thinking

Strategic Skill Area

A Systems Approach to Understanding Childhood Obesity

Course Objective

By the end of this module, you should know how to:

  • Describe public health as part of a larger inter-related system of organizations that influence the health of populations at local, national, and global levels.
  • Describe different stakeholders with the power to address childhood obesity.
  • Explain how local health departments (LHDs) can use systems thinking approaches while planning intersectoral initiatives to reduce inequities in childhood obesity.

…and see how you can incorporate these concepts in your practice to address a major public health crisis.

This module developed by the Region 2 Public Health Training Center (PHTC) aims to explore how to use problem solving approaches inspired by systems thinking to reduce inequities in childhood obesity.* Systems thinking is a methodological approach that helps us better understand how complex systems operate, and how we can identify leverage points within systems to influence behavior. Since this is a foundational module, our goal is just to introduce how a systems thinking lens can be applied to a major public health issue.

In this module, you will learn how to identify the characteristics of a system in a public health context.

*To learn more about systems thinking, please enroll in the course ‘Introduction to Systems Thinking’, part of the Strategic Skills training series also offered by the Region 2 Public Health Training Center.

Strategic Skills Training Series: Introduction to Systems Thinking

Course Objective

By the end of this module, you should know how to:

  • Consider events, patterns, and structures related to a complex problem
  • Explain what a complex adaptive system is
  • Explain how mental models impact the way we perceive a problem
  • List some key systems thinking habits to develop

…and see how you can incorporate these concepts in your practice to address a major public health crisis.

The Strategic Skills Training Series developed by the Region 2 PHTC aims to help prepare public health practitioners to develop the practices and competencies associated with being a Chief Health Strategist. The modules in this series use the community health improvement planning process to introduce you to the basics of the following four strategic skills areas. This first set of modules have been developed at an introductory level; the next part of the series will build on these foundational modules.

To help you think about ways to leverage these skills in your journey as a Chief Health Strategist to address real world problems in your community, the modules will utilize a case study approach, set in the fictitious Tycho County.

Follow how the Tycho County Health Department could adopt a systems approach to inform its thinking and planning while developing a community health improvement plan focused on a familiar public health problem, opioid misuse.

In this module, you will learn how to identify the characteristics of a system in a public health context.

Systems Thinking for Public Health: An Introduction
Systems Thinking for Public Health An Introduction

Course Objective

  • Define a system
  • Explain why systems thinking is important for public health
  • Describe 3 tools for systems thinking

Date: May 7, 2019

Presenter:
Dr. Jacqueline Merrill, PhD, MPH, RN


In this month’s Log-in2Learn webinar, participants learn from Dr. Jacqueline Merrill about the value of systems thinking in addressing major, complex public health challenges. The lecture provides an overview on public health’s emerging responsibility to engage multiple stakeholders and community partners in improving social determinants of health, as well as how systems thinking can facilitate the creation of context-specific solutions between them. Dr. Merrill introduces the major constructs and describes basic decision-making tools used in systems thinking. At the end of the lecture, Dr. Merrill illustrates in-depth examples in applying systems thinking techniques in public health.

Participants will learn how to:

  1. Define a system
  2. Explain why systems thinking is important for public health
  3. Describe 3 tools for systems thinking
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Drug Poisonings: What do we know? What do we need to know?
Pharmacists Looking at Medication

Course Objective

  • Define prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP)
  • List the measurement issues that arise when studying PDMPs and their effect on prescription opioid and heroin poisoning rates
  • Describe the evidence surrounding the effects of PDMPs on rates of nonfatal and fatal prescription opioid and heroin poisoning

Date: December 4, 2018

Presenter:
Silvia Martins MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Magdalena Cerda, DrPH
Associate Professor, Department of Population Health
New York University School of Medicine

David Fink, MPhil, MPH
PhD Candidate, Epidemiology Department
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health


Participants learn from Dr. Silvia Martins, Dr. Magdalena Cerda and Dr. David Fink about the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in the United States. First, Dr. David Fink provides an overview in current PDMP practices, explains the inconsistent evidence related to their success in reducing fatal and nonfatal prescription drug poisoning, and explores the unintended consequences of PDMP implementation such as increased heroin poisoning rates. Then, Dr. Cerda categorizes different PDMPs as proactive and reactive, then describes their research of PDMP implementation from 1999 to 2016. Lastly, Dr. Martins explains how proactive PDMPs–which proactively provide unsolicited information to PDMP users, provide open access to law enforcement, and require frequent data reporting–are less likely to be associated with increased in fatal heroin poisonings than reactive PDMPs.

Strategies to Advance Health Equity: State and Local Health Departments’ Role in Building Pathways to Higher Education
Group of Diverse Graduates

Course Objective

  • Explain the rationale for expanding public health practice to promote health and equity by supporting access to high-quality, affordable education
  • Summarize evidence documenting how high school and college completion can improve health
  • Describe structural, social, political, and economic barriers to high school and college completion
  • Identify three specific strategies designed to support high school completion, transition to higher education, and college completion to advance health equity
  • Explain how LHDs can leverage “upstream” strategies to support these initiatives, including partnering with other agencies, social movements and community organizations

Date: September 24, 2018

Presenter:
Nicholas Freudenberg
Distinguished Professor of Public Health
City University of New York School of Public Health

Emily Frazosa
Senior Researcher
City University of New York School of Public Health


The relationship between health and education is well documented. However, not everyone in the United States has the same access to high-quality education, which creates wide disparities in high school and college graduation rates and future life success. Additionally, people with more education live longer lives and have lower rates of chronic disease and less drug use, less smoking and better birth outcomes. Advancing health equity means we must work to make sure everyone in our communities has access to equitable, high-quality, affordable educational opportunities. In this module, participants will explore specifically on how high school and college completion influence health, and what prevents students from earning a degree. While high school and college each present some challenges that are different, you’ll see that many of them overlap. Also, learners will review barriers that keep students from academic success, and the public health tools we have to break down those barriers. Lastly, learners will look at real-world examples of how schools, governments and health departments are working to help all students succeed.

Collective Impact Part I: Common Agenda and Shared Measures
Hands Drawing on Chalkboard

Course Objective

  • Identify some ways a community organization could provide assists to a Collective Impact project.
  • Describe a key practice for the Continuous Communication condition.
  • List the elements of Backbone Support for a Collective Impact project.
  • Describe how technology-based tools can affect Collective Impact efforts.

Date: August 31, 2018

Presenter:
Bill Barberg
President
Insightformation, Inc.


This module is part two of a two-part introductory series to the Collective Impact framework. In this module, participants build upon the lessons of part one by learning about the last three conditions of the Collective Impact framework–mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support. Participants will explore best practices of each of these conditions in order to advance public health initiatives.

Collective Impact Part II: Mutually Reinforcing Activities, Continuous Communication, and Backbone Support
Hands Drawing Graph on Chalkboard

Course Objective

  • Identify some ways a community organization could provide assists to a Collective Impact project.
  • Describe a key practice for the Continuous Communication condition.
  • List the elements of Backbone Support for a Collective Impact project.
  • Describe how technology-based tools can affect Collective Impact efforts.

Date: August 31, 2018

Presenter:
Bill Barberg
President
Insightformation, Inc.


This module is part two of a two-part introductory series to the Collective Impact framework. In this module, participants build upon the lessons of part one by learning about the last three conditions of the Collective Impact framework – mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support. Participants will explore best practices of each of these conditions in order to advance public health initiatives.

Health Disparities in HIV: Supporting Adolescents through the HIV Care Continuum
Hands Hold Red Ribbon

Course Objective

  • Define the adolescent specific HIV-related health disparities in the United States.
  • Describe the individual and structural level factors impeding youth’s progress through the HIV Care Continuum.
  • Identify potential individual and structural level intervention points to support the health of youth living with HIV.

Date: June 5, 2018

Presenter:
Dr. Amanda Tanner
Associate Professor
University of North Carolina Greensboro


This webinar explores the specific challenges associated with ensuring adolescents are able to access HIV screening and treatment. Dr. Amanda Tanner provides background on adolescent’s biological, cognitive, social, and legal changes as they progress to adulthood as well as the disparities of HIV diagnosis and care among adolescents, especially minority youth. This presentation continues with an overview of two studies that investigate care linkage and engagement for youth with newly diagnosed HIV as well as the HIV-related healthcare transition at adolescent clinics. Dr. Tanner provides recommendations for future interventions that will help adolescents know their HIV status, become linked with appropriate care, and maintain viral suppression

Strategies to Advance Health Equity: State and Local Health Departments’ Role in Improving Food Access among Immigrants
Vegetables Spilled Out of Brown Bag

Course Objective

  • Explain the rationale for expanding public health practice to promote health and equity by supporting immigrant access to healthy, affordable food
  • List the major public anti-hunger programs and summarize the eligibility rules that apply to different legal categories of immigrants
  • Describe how individual beliefs, organizational practices, and policies contribute to inequitable access to healthy food and public food benefits between immigrant and US-born populations
  • Explain at least two specific local or state Health Department initiatives designed to improve access to healthy food and food benefits among immigrant populations that could be adapted to the participant’s community
  • Explain how local health departments can leverage “upstream” strategies, including partnering with other agencies, social movements and community organizations, to protect and expand immigrant access to food benefits and services

Date: May 19, 2018

Presenter:
Nicholas Freudenberg
Distinguished Professor of Public Health
City University of New York School of Public Health

Emily Franzosa
Senior Researcher
City University of New York School of Public Health

Emilia Vignola
PhD Candidate
City University of New York School of Public Health


There are currently more than 40 million immigrants living in the US, contributing to our society as workers, taxpayers, caretakers, and neighbors. Many of these immigrants are more likely to be poor than US-born people because of cultural, language, and legal barriers that influence their living and working conditions and access to services. One consequence of this poverty is food insecurity, or not having enough healthy food, which has serious implications for health. As public health professionals, we work to prevent harm and reduce health inequities. When members of our communities struggle to access healthy food, they are at risk for health problems. But they are also limited in their ability to contribute meaningfully to society, which affects all of us. To meet our national health goals, local health departments must work to ensure that everyone in our communities has the opportunities and resources they need for good health – regardless of immigration status.

In this module, participants will:

  • Explore specific challenges immigrants may face in accessing healthy food at the individual, organizational, and policy levels
  • Consider real-world examples of how local health departments can partner with other agencies, community organizations, and activists to overcome these barriers and help immigrants access healthy, affordable food for themselves and their families
  • Strategize about how to adopt similar initiatives in their community and organization
Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?
Shadow of Someone Pointing a Gun

Course Objective

  • Describe and explain firearm violence as a major social and health problem
  • Describe how conceptual models (e.g. Haddon Matrix, social ecological model, etc.) are used to portray the multiple factors underlying violence
  • Identify factors that influence the likelihood and severity of violence

Date: November 15, 2017

Presenter:
Bernadette C. Hohl, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Rutgers School of Public Health


In 2016, the AMA adopted policy calling gun violence “a public health crisis” requiring a comprehensive public health response. In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed and expanded 2 older policy statements on gun violence. But is gun violence a public health issue? This presentation will describe the issue of gun violence using a public health approach: that includes: defining the problem, identifying risk and protective factors, and evidence based interventions.

Region 2 Public Health Training Center