Complex systems approaches for public health
A complex systems model of public health conceptualises health as the outcome of a multitude of interdependent elements within a connected whole, which has significant implications for how interventions to improve public health are designed, implemented and evaluated. We use the Context and Implementation of Complex Interventions (CICI) framework, logic models and other tools to conceptualise interventions in this manner and bring together a broad spectrum of methods to assess their impacts.
Systematic reviews and guidelines
We develop and apply methods for systematic reviews characterised by complexity, including quantitative as well as qualitative, mixed-method and methodological reviews. We work on several reviews of environmental interventions (e.g. a Cochrane review on interventions to reduce ambient air pollution) and are proud to be part of Cochrane Public Health Europe, the European satellite of Cochrane Public Health, and frequently contribute to the development of guidelines by WHO and other organisations.
Non-randomised study designs for intervention evaluation
When evaluating population-level health interventions, randomisation is often not feasible. In these situations, selected non-randomised study designs such as controlled before-after (CBA) and interrupted time series (ITS) studies provide the best available evidence. We examine both how these studies are used in systematic reviews, and apply and assess them ourselves in the evaluation of specific interventions (e.g. Bavarian smoking ban).
Qualitative and mixed method approaches
In addition to our focus on quantitative methods, we employ different qualitative and mixed method approaches – these form an essential part of the toolkit to do justice to a complex systems model of public health. We put these methods into practice in developing interventions and in conducting process evaluations of interventions.
Implementation science, knowledge transfer and co-production
To support the application of evidence in policy and practice, we take a close look at how research findings are translated into policy and practice and what obstacles are encountered. In many of our projects, we try to build bridges between the academic world and the needs of real-world decision-making processes, for example by co-producing research findings together with potential users from policy and practice. We use such approaches, among others, in the context of the municipal health programme Präventionskette Freiham in Munich, as well as for the Collaboration for Evidence-Based Healthcare and Public Health in Africa (CEBHA+).