Introduction: It is notoriously challenging to implement evidence-based care and to update and improve healthcare practices. One reason for the difficulty is the complexity of healthcare and the powerful influence of context on implementation and improvement efforts. Thus, there is a need for multifaceted, flexible change methods that takes these complexities into consideration. One approach that has the potential in this regard is soft systems methodology (SSM). However, little is known about how SSM has been applied in healthcare settings, making it difficult to assess the usefulness of SSM for implementation science or improvement research. The aim of the proposed scoping review is to examine and map the use and outcomes of SSM in healthcare. Methods and analysis: The review will adapt the framework outlined by Arksey and O'Malley (2005). Citations will be uncovered through a comprehensive database search of the peer-reviewed literature. Two reviewers will conduct a two-stage review and selection process where the titles/abstracts are examined followed by a screening of full texts of the selected citations. Reference lists of included citations will be snowballed to identify potential additional citations. Inclusion criteria are English language, peer-reviewed empirical papers focusing on the application of SSM in a healthcare setting. Both general information about the citations and information related to the objective of the review will be extracted from the included citations and entered into a data charting form. The extracted information will be reported in diagrams and tables and summarised to present a narrative account of the literature. The proposed review will provide information on the potential for using SSM to affect change in healthcare. Ethics and dissemination: No primary data will be collected, and thus ethical permission is unnecessary. Dissemination of results include peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- change management
- complex systems
- soft systems methodology