Complexity and human health: the case for a transdisciplinary paradigm

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1998 Mar;22(1):55-92. doi: 10.1023/a:1005328821675.


Transdisciplinary thinking is an emerging philosophy underpinning health social science. We advance a definition of transdisciplinary thinking and link it with complexity theory. Complexity theory's concern with non-linear relationships, interactive causality and emergent properties of systems compels researchers to adopt a transdisciplinary perspective. We construct a generic framework for analyzing health processes from diverse disciplines and apply it to coronary heart disease in the Australian Coalfields. Insights from this analysis support our argument that transdisciplinary thinking maximizes understanding of the complexity of human health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Causality
  • Coal Mining / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Epidemiology / trends*
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Models, Organizational
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Planning Techniques
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sociology, Medical*
  • World Health Organization