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Translating research into prevention of high-risk behaviors in the presence of complex systems: definitions and systems frameworks.

Abstract

To impact population health, it is critical to collaborate across disciplinary and practice-based silos and integrate resources, experiences, and knowledge to exert positive change. Complex systems shape both the prevention outcomes researchers, practitioners, and policymakers seek to impact and how research is translated and can either impede or support movement from basic scientific discovery to impactful and scaled-up prevention practice. Systems science methods can be used to facilitate designing translation support that is grounded in a richer understanding of the many interacting forces affecting prevention outcomes across contexts. In this paper, we illustrate how one systems science method, system dynamics, could be used to advance research, practice, and policy initiatives in each stage of translation from discovery to translation of innovation into global communities (T0-T5), with tobacco prevention as an example. System dynamics can be applied to each translational stage to integrate disciplinary knowledge and document testable hypotheses to inform translation research and practice.

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