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How do we know whether systems approaches to tackling complex public health challenges are effective?

There's an increasing recognition of the need to take a systems approach to tackling complex public health challenges. But how do we measure the impacts of our actions in the context of complex systems that adapt and change in response to them?

Catch up on our webinar where we shared examples of how to evaluate systems approaches to tackling complex public health challenges. You'll also hear about the latest developments in frameworks and guidance for system-level evaluation, and discover how these can be used.

Evaluating complex systems approaches to improving health


Vanessa is a Research Fellow based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine working with the NIHR School for Public Health Research. She has an academic background in nutrition and expertise in mixed method research.

Vanessa is currently working on the evaluation of advertising restrictions on high fat, salt and sugar foods and drinks on the Transport for London network. She also co-leads a pilot project exploring the impact of housing on health using Photovoice with residents of Tower Hamlets living in private, social and temporary accommodation.

Vanessa's research interests include ethnic minority health and health inequalities. She is also interested in the application of systems theory and complexity science in public health research.

Vanessa Er

Professor Moore is Director of the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in the University of Glasgow. Prior to taking up that post in 2013, he was Professor of Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University and founding Director of DECIPHer, a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence.  

He is a social scientist and statistician with a track record in the development and evaluation of interventions to improve public health. Working in multidisciplinary teams and in collaboration with policy makers, practitioners and the public, he has completed mixed methods evaluations of diverse interventions and programmes, which have then had a direct impact on policy and practice. These include evaluations of exercise referral schemes, fruit tuck shops, peer-led smoking prevention (the ASSIST trial), the free school breakfast initiative in Wales and smoking cessation in pregnancy.  

Laurence is a leading expert in the evaluation of complex interventions and is increasingly interested in the application of complex systems concepts and methods to population health intervention research. He was a member of the OSCHR Public Health Board, the National Prevention Research Initiative Scientific Committee, the NIHR Public Health Research Programme Research Funding Board, the MRC/NIHR Methodology Research Programme Panel and Advisory board and is now a member of the MRC Population Health Strategy Group.  

Laurence has been PI or Co-Investigator on Research Unit, Centre and capacity building grants totalling c.£38M and Research project grants totalling c.£27M.

Laurence Moore

Harry Rutter is professor of global public health at the University of Bath, senior academic adviser to Public Health England, and holds adjunct professor positions in both Norway and Ireland. He was the founder director of the English National Obesity Observatory, led the development of the English National Child Measurement Programme, and chaired the NICE group on guidance on walking and cycling. His research is focused on effective, sustainable and equitable mechanisms for improving the research, policy and practice responses to complex systems problems in public health, with a particular focus on obesity, physical activity, and non-communicable diseases.

Harry Rutter


Louise Marshall joined the Health Foundation in December 2014 as Senior Public Health Fellow, first in the Economics team and since 2017 in the Healthy Lives team.

Before joining the Health Foundation, Louise worked in public health roles spanning policy, practice and research during public health specialty training. Prior to this, she was a postdoctoral scientist in public health nutrition. 

Louise has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Public Health Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and an MPhil in Public Health from the University of Cambridge.

Louise is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and a Member of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management. She is also an Honorary Consultant in Public Health at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Here are some resources that the speakers signpost to:

Luke DA, Stamatakis KA. Systems science methods in public health: dynamics, networks, and agents. Annual review of public health. 2012 Apr 21;33:357-76.

The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (include Bayesian Modelling)

Download the slides used in this webinar

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