Towards Systems Thinking: Strengthening the Bonds between Operations Research (OR) and Health Services Planning & Epidemiology

Maria Stella Castro Lobo, Marcos Pereira Estellita Lins


The study proposes a dialogical approach between OR and Health Services Planning and Epidemiology based on the similarities of their own epistemological experiences, according to Habermas’ Theory of Knowledge. As a field of application, health services planning and epidemiology are Complex Societal Problems (CSP), requiring multidisciplinary and multi-dimensional approach. The paper suggests an agenda towards systems thinking to enhance the interaction between the disciplines to guarantee the implementation research´ results by decision makers. Multi-methodology and concept maps tools deal with CSP and may consider peacefully the coexistence of different paradigms. Structuring the problems by concept maps accomplish the systems thinking approach, by presenting the context with diverse levels, feedback loops and dependencies. The map is a real board upon which actors and stakeholders exercise their communicative skills and define collaborative loops towards concepts, meanings and practical implementation.


epistemology; systems thinking; soft OR; complex societal problems; health planning; epidemiology

Full Text: