Using systems thinking in state health policymaking: an educational initiative
To learn more about the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and GHPC, visit https://aysps.gsu.edu/ and https://ghpc.gsu.edu
In response to limited examples of opportunities for state policymakers to learn about and productively discuss the difficult, adaptive challenges of our health system, the Georgia Health Policy Center developed an educational initiative that applies systems thinking to health policymaking. We created the Legislative Health Policy Certificate Program – an in-depth, multi-session series for law-makers and their staff – concentrating on building systems thinking competen-cies and health content knowledge by applying a range of systems thinking tools: behavior over time graphs, stock and flow maps, and a system dynamics-based learning lab (a simulatable model of childhood obesity). Legislators were taught to approach policy issues from the big picture, consider changing dynamics, and explore higher-leverage interventions to address Georgia’s most intractable health challenges. Our aim was to determine how we could improve the policymaking process by providing a systems thinking-focused educational program for legislators. Over 3 years, the training program resulted in policy-makers’ who are able to think more broadly about difficult health issues. The program has yielded valuable insights into the design and delivery of policy-maker education that could be applied to various disciplines outside the legislative process.