Complex Systems Thinking: Interprofessional Collaboration in Integrative Medicine
Interdisciplinary studies are now widespread for answering complex research questions, especially in the health care research field. A theoretical basis to grasp the concept of complexity is found in the work of Kay and colleagues (1999) on Complex systems thinking. Their proposed set of approaches fosters the understanding of a system as a whole and its capacity to adapt and self-regulate. However, given the relative novelty of the concepts and theories surrounding complexity, researchers are still facing scientific and methodological issues when operationalizing complex systems. This paper is a reflection on how systems thinking could be used to explain how knowledge is generated and how innovations may emerge from that process. Through a review of how the theory of complexity has been used in the field of health care, methodologies and methods that are currently available to researchers who implement projects drawing on that theory are discussed. Current scientific and methodological limits and constraints of the application of complexity theory in research are explored and potential solutions are examined. In its second part, the paper portrays how interprofessional collaboration between conventional and complementary and alternative medicine practitioners (called integrative medicine) could be studied from a complex system perspective.
Keywords: Complexe Systems Thinking, Innovation, Interprofessional Collaboration, Integrative Medicine
Dr. Louise Bouchard
Professor, Institute of Population Health
PhD Candidate, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa