Systems organise themselves upward toward larger wholes, and downward toward ever smaller parts. The upward view describes holism or emergence (complexity science view), the downward view reductionism or analysis (Newtonian science view). Both views provide valid and valuable information, one being contextual, the other specific. A systems and complexity view allows a simultaneous understanding of a phenomenon from different perspectives, providing the opportunity to identify potentially different outcomes from a single action. The findings from studies on prescribing antibiotics and continuity of care will demonstrate and draw attention to the potential of this approach for primary care research.