News Release

Real-world examples demonstrate how systems science can address health inequities

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Wolters Kluwer Health

September 12, 2023 – As researchers increasingly recognize that causes for health issues are structural and interrelated, real-world, innovative case studies demonstrate the value of applying systems science to evaluate health interventions and address health inequities as seen in a special supplement, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in the October/December issue of Family & Community Health. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.  

Systems science offers an effective paradigm for examining and addressing various health issues to improve outcomes and reduce health inequities. The case studies in this special supplement “review how systems science is currently used in public health, suggest areas of improvement, and then review included articles’ various techniques to intervene in and evaluate complex health problems,” according to Whitney R. Garney, PhD, MPH, and Sara Flores, Department of Health Behavior, Texas A&M School of Public Health; Monica L. Wendel, DrPH, MA, and Hallie R. Decker, MSSW, Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences, in an editorial that opens the supplement.  

Systems-level investigations should focus on how causal factors interrelate and overlap 
Systems science is not new to public health, as researchers, practitioners, and policymakers now realize there are structural and systemic causes to a wide variety of health issues. Yet, a variety of factors, including lack of people trained in system science methods and lack of funds, are inhibiting the advancement of systems-level investigations. In addition, many approaches still confine their evaluations to individuals rather than to the ways policies, institutions, and communities are connected. 

This supplement aims to fill this gap and presents a diverse selection of case studies using a variety of strategic models. For example, in “Longitudinal policy and systems change as a component of community power”, Providence Health System’s Claire Devine, JD, MPH; et al. discuss a 10-year longitudinal study on how local communities can build power and influence to effect positive, systemic changes that address health inequities.  

The study used a unique coding mechanism to capture approximately 1,500 policy and system changes as part of California’s 2010-2020 Building Healthy Communities initiative to illustrate that state, local, and community changes are interdependent. The article focuses on the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which targeted schools. Results show that 68% of statewide changes overlapped with community changes, indicating that the LCFF policy led to multiple community-driven changes over time. As the authors note, “By bridging the divide between community members and reformers and using bottom-up, inclusive approaches, place-based initiatives like BHC can promote racial and health equity.”  

[Link to Supplemental Issue]

Wolters Kluwer provides trusted clinical technology and evidence-based solutions that engage clinicians, patients, researchers and students in effective decision-making and outcomes across healthcare. We support clinical effectiveness, learning and research, clinical surveillance and compliance, as well as data solutions. For more information about our solutions, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @WKHealth


About Family & Community Health 

Family & Community Health is a quarterly journal that aims to advance the science of understanding and addressing health inequities among marginalized and vulnerable populations. Despite many existing definitions of health inequity, what is common across them is that differences in risk, incidence, prevalence, treatment, or outcomes between defined populations are systematic, preventable, and unjust. 

Family & Community Health publishes rigorous scholarly work from multiple disciplines using quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, and systems science to elevate policy-relevant research and practice that acknowledges the roles of social networks, families, and communities in contextualizing health. The Journal will consider theoretical, applied, data-driven, and translational research. The focus of this work needs to be on health inequities, their social and structural determinants, and strategies for intervening, all toward the ultimate goal of advancing health equity. 

About Wolters Kluwer  

Wolters Kluwer (EURONEXT: WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the healthcare, tax and accounting, financial and corporate compliance, legal and regulatory, and corporate performance and ESG sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.  

 Wolters Kluwer reported 2022 annual revenues of €5.5 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 20,900 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.  

For more information, visit, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.