Public-health interventions informed by theory can be more effective but complex interventions often use insufficiently complex theories. We systematically reviewed theories of how school environments influence health. We included 37 reports drawing on 24 theories. Narrative synthesis summarised and categorised theories. We then produced an integrated theory of school environment influences on student health. This integrated theory could inform complex interventions such as health promoting schools programmes. Using systematic reviews to develop theories of change might be useful for other types of 'complex' public-health interventions addressing risks at the individual and community levels.
Keywords: Adolescent; Complex intervention; Review; Schools; Theory.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.