Designing health innovation networks using complexity science and systems thinking: the CoNEKTR model

J Eval Clin Pract. 2010 Oct;16(5):1016-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01534.x.


Rationale, aims and objectives: Complex problems require strategies to engage diverse perspectives in a focused, flexible manner, yet few options exist that fit with the current health care and public health system constraints. The Complex Network Electronic Knowledge Translation Research model (CoNEKTR) brings together complexity science, design thinking, social learning theories, systems thinking and eHealth technologies together to support a sustained engagement strategy for social innovation support and enhancing knowledge integration.

Methods: The CoNEKTR model adapts elements of other face-to-face social organizing methods and combines it with social media and electronic networking tools to create a strategy for idea generation, refinement and social action. Drawing on complexity science, a series of networking and dialogue-enhancing activities are employed to bring diverse groups together, facilitate dialogue and create networks of networks.

Results: Ten steps and five core processes informed by complexity science have been developed through this model. Concepts such as emergence, attractors and feedback play an important role in facilitating networking among participants in the model.

Conclusions: Using a constrained, focused approach informed by complexity science and using information technology, the CoNEKTR model holds promise as a means to enhance system capacity for knowledge generation, learning and action while working within the limitations faced by busy health professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Public Health*
  • Social Support*
  • Systems Analysis*