SOPHE Journal Supplement Showcases Exciting New Applications of Systems Science to Health Promotion and Public Health

Media Contact: Elaine Colwell | (202) 408-9804 |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 20, 2013

WASHINGTON - The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) announces the publication of a special journal supplement of Health Education & Behavior (HE&B) focused on the pioneering use of systems science methods in health promotion. The supplement features exciting new developments in applying systems science to the area of behavioral and social sciences, and is published with the support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, the National Dental and Craniofacial Institute, and the Fogarty International Center.

Systems science uses computer, mathematical modeling and other approaches to study multiple factors that combine to influence research outcomes. This supplement, "Systems Science Applications in Health Promotion and Public Health," includes 11 peer-reviewed articles in which the researchers used systems sciences approaches to study adolescent smoking and tobacco control, transmission of infectious diseases, violent crime, physical activity, oral health, prescription drug abuse, and other health issues.

“Today’s complex public health problems require new, inventive methodologies to examine the big picture as well as its individual pieces,” says Patricia Mabry, PhD, journal co-guest editor and Deputy Director of NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. “NIH and other public and private agencies are investing in systems science research as well as training young investigators to help discover practical solutions to real-world problems.”

One study, for example, by Schaefer and colleagues in the special issue used computer simulation to examine how peer influences and friendship networks combine to influence smoking behavior in teens. The researchers found that peer influences and teens’ views on the popularity of smokers were stronger predictors of the likelihood of teens starting to smoke than quitting. As smoker popularity increased, fewer smokers quit and more nonsmokers began smoking. The use of simulation methods allowed the investigators to examine smoking outcomes when multiple factors were altered.

“This collection of articles opens exciting new frontiers of thinking in health promotion and showcases the growing volume, range of topics, and different methods being used by scientists,” says Bobby Milstein, PhD, co-editor of the supplement and a researcher affiliated with the Hygeia Dynamics Policy Studio and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. “It also underscores the need for more government, philanthropic and academic leaders to cultivate and invest in this young but increasingly important field.”

The 130-page HE&B supplement is available open access at
In addition, a podcast interview of the co-guest editors will be available at A twitter chat among selected authors of manuscripts in the HE&B supplement will be held December 4th at 2:00pm ET.

About HE&B
Health Education & Behavior (HE&B) is a peer-reviewed, bimonthly journal that publishes authoritative empirical research and commentary on critical health issues of interest to a broad range of professionals whose work involves understanding factors associated with health behavior and evidence-based social and behavioral strategies to improve health status. Impact factor: 1.682 For more information, visit

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of society. SOPHE's 4,000 international and chapter members work in various public and private organizations to advance health education theory and research, develop disease prevention and health promotion programs, and promote public policies conducive to health. For more information, go to

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) opened officially on July 1, 1995. The U.S. Congress established the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the Office of the Director, NIH, in recognition of the key role that behavioral and social factors often play in illness and health. The OBSSR mission is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease. The development of new methodologies including systems science to understand and intervene on complex behavioral and social science phenomena is a priority for OBSSR. For more information, please visit