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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Curtis, S. & Riva, M. Health geographies II: complexity and health care systems and policy. Progress in Human Geography. 2009;34:513-520.

Author(s) from Durham


In this second of two progress reports on geographies of health, we continue a discussion framed from the perspective of complexity theory to consider research which is more particularly focused on health care and health policy. Using selected examples, we discuss how health care and policy have been influenced by ideas from complexity theory and consider the scope for more integrated health geography in future research. These studies illustrate changing perspectives in health geography on the integration of different parts of health systems and the implications for those who plan, deliver and receive health-related care and interventions. They show an increasingly sophisticated theorization of the ways in which understandings of ‘therapeutic’ settings are individually and socially constructed, and how to tackle issues of health inequality and achieve health improvement. These studies emphasize research which takes into account the dynamics of health care and health policy in time as well as space. A consideration of complexity theory raises questions about the potential for re-evaluating other theoretical frameworks and treating different theoretical perspectives as complementary rather than competing discourses.

Department of Geography