Placing Health by Tim Blackman

In yesterday's post, I discussed the three models currently used to do community health science. Of the three models, I am obviously a champion of the third--the community-as-complex-system model.

While I provided a basic overview of this model, I did not provide much in the way of references. I did, however, mention a book at the end.

The book is Placing Health by Tim Blackman. A link to the Google Books peek into the book is here.

Blackman's basic goal is to explain and demonstrate (through empirical inquiry) how complexity science improves our understanding of the role communities play in the health of people. Specifically, it explores how communities function as complex systems and the role these complex systems play in the lives of people, particularly in terms of spatial inequality.

Rather than review the book here, I will list several reviews for you to read. I will, however, make one point. Toward the end of the book, Blackman points to one of the explicit ways that a complex systems viewpoint changes how one approaches improving community health. While the community-as-context model is a major step forward, it is, nonetheless, a top-down model. This means that is treats the citizens of a community as objects of treatment. This leads to top-heavy, public health--the kind that does NOT involve people in their own health improvement. The community-as-complex-system model, however, is entirely different. Because it takes a bottom-up approach, it begins, by definition, with an interactive (relational) view of people and their communities, looking at how both effect the other. As such, it follows an action research protocol--people need to be involved in the improvement of their health care and their communities, which in turn, impacts of health of these people.

Okay, I will stop there. I think the book is fantastic and needs to be read by anyone serious about community or public health.

Here are some reviews to read

Review 1. International Journal of Integrated Care

2. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health


  1. The first review was a little dry. It did not particularly make me want to read the book.
    I enjoyed reading the second review and wish that I could have read the entire review. I think that I would like to read the book and learn more about the subject.
    Mindi R.

  2. I had read over the second article for a previous study on health psychology. I would love to read the book in its entirety, it sounds very interesting to me. I am also very interested in the biopsychosocial model and how it pertains to medicine and health. I think the bottom-up approach is the way to go!!

    In Kenya, Africa I had the experience of working with women with disabilities to create their own "plan of action" lists to help them become better self advocates. I think this approach is so much better than having them sit around waiting for those who have more power to advocate for them.
    Evey W

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