Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Exploring network structure and the role of key stakeholders to understand the obesity prevention system in an Australian metropolitan health service: study protocol
  1. Jonine Jancey1,2,
  2. Justine Elizabeth Leavy1,2,
  3. Christina Pollard3,
  4. Therese Riley4,
  5. Maria Szybiak5,6,
  6. Megan Milligan3,
  7. Dan Chamberlain4,7,
  8. Krysten Blackford1,2
  1. 1 School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2 Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3 Population and Community Health, East Metropolitan Health Service, Perth, Australia
  4. 4 The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, Sax Institute, Haymarket, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5 Cancer Prevention and Research, Cancer Council Western Australia, Subiaco, Australia
  6. 6 Public Health, Heart Foundation Western Australia, Subiaco, Australia
  7. 7 School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Krysten Blackford; k.blackford{at}


Introduction Little progress has been made to address the increasing obesity prevalence over the past few decades, and there is growing concern about the far-reaching consequences for health and well-being related to obesity on a global scale. Systems thinking is emerging as a suitable approach for obesity prevention, as it allows health researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to systematically synthesise existing data, expose gaps, inform priority setting and identify leverage points in the system. The aim of this study is to trial a systems thinking approach to better understand the local obesity prevention system, and identify gaps and viable opportunities for health promotion activities to strengthen obesity prevention efforts in an Australian metropolitan health service.

Methods and analysis A mixed methods design will be undertaken in a metropolitan health service area in Perth, Western Australia in 2019–2020. A systems inventory audit will be used to identify physical activity, nutrition and overweight/obesity prevention activities taking place in the study area. An organisational network survey will be administered, and a social network analysis undertaken to examine relationships between organisations in the network. The relationships and interactions will compare the level and type of interactions each organisation has within the network. Parameters including density, centrality and betweenness will be computed using UCINET and Netdraw.

Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval has been obtained from the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number HRE2017-0862). Results will be reviewed with members of the advisory group, submitted to relevant journals and presented at relevant conferences to health promotion practitioners and policy-makers. The area health service, as co-producers of the research, will use findings to inform policy and strategy across the study area.

  • obesity prevention
  • systems thinking
  • health promotion
  • social network analysis
  • organisation of health service

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors JJ, JL, CP, TR, MS, MM, DC and KB participated in the design of the study and data collection instruments. JJ and KB drafted the manuscript, and JJ, JL, CP, TR, MS, MM, DC and KB read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This project is part of the Healthway Health Promotion Exploratory Research Grants project 31980. East Metropolitan Health Service and Curtin University provided initial seed funding. The Prevention Tracker project was funded by the NHMRC, Australian Government Department of Health, NSW Ministry of Health, ACT Health and the HCF Research Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval has been obtained from the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval Number HREC2017-0862).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.