‘Embracing Complexity’ to Solve Community Health Issues

institute Scholar George Kaplan, PhD, delivered a Capstone presentation: “Embracing Complexity: H.L. Mencken, Whole Systems, and Integrative Approaches to Health.”

For decades, the public and private sectors have been spending billions of dollars encouraging Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles. But, it’s still hard to know which policies and programs will have the greatest impact on health and health disparities. The goal of Dr. Kaplan’s innovative work has been to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that influence health and how these factors work together as a complex system.

Dr. Kaplan describes how computer simulations of hypothetical communities can shed light on the ways that social divides become health divides. He explained why embracing complexity, rather than reducing a problem to its simplest parts, is the optimal approach to solving some of our thorniest health issues.