Developing a framework for planning healthy communities : the Logan Beaudesert health decision support system

Gudes, Ori (2012) Developing a framework for planning healthy communities : the Logan Beaudesert health decision support system. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In the last few decades, the focus on building healthy communities has grown significantly (Ashton, 2009). There is growing evidence that new approaches to planning are required to address the challenges faced by contemporary communities. These approaches need to be based on timely access to local information and collaborative planning processes (Murray, 2006; Scotch & Parmanto, 2006; Ashton, 2009; Kazda et al., 2009). However, there is little research to inform the methods that can support this type of responsive, local, collaborative and consultative health planning (Northridge et al., 2003). Some research justifies the use of decision support systems (DSS) as a tool to support planning for healthy communities. DSS have been found to increase collaboration between stakeholders and communities, improve the accuracy and quality of the decision-making process, and improve the availability of data and information for health decision-makers (Nobre et al., 1997; Cromley & McLafferty, 2002; Waring et al., 2005). Geographic information systems (GIS) have been suggested as an innovative method by which to implement DSS because they promote new ways of thinking about evidence and facilitate a broader understanding of communities. Furthermore, literature has indicated that online environments can have a positive impact on decision-making by enabling access to information by a broader audience (Kingston et al., 2001). However, only limited research has examined the implementation and impact of online DSS in the health planning field. Previous studies have emphasised the lack of effective information management systems and an absence of frameworks to guide the way in which information is used to promote informed decisions in health planning. It has become imperative to develop innovative approaches, frameworks and methods to support health planning. Thus, to address these identified gaps in the knowledge, this study aims to develop a conceptual planning framework for creating healthy communities and examine the impact of DSS in the Logan Beaudesert area. Specifically, the study aims to identify the key elements and domains of information that are needed to develop healthy communities, to develop a conceptual planning framework for creating healthy communities, to collaboratively develop and implement an online GIS-based Health DSS (i.e., HDSS), and to examine the impact of the HDSS on local decision-making processes. The study is based on a real-world case study of a community-based initiative that was established to improve public health outcomes and promote new ways of addressing chronic disease. The study involved the development of an online GIS-based health decision support system (HDSS), which was applied in the Logan Beaudesert region of Queensland, Australia. A planning framework was developed to account for the way in which information could be organised to contribute to a healthy community. The decision support system was developed within a unique settings-based initiative Logan Beaudesert Health Coalition (LBHC) designed to plan and improve the health capacity of Logan Beaudesert area in Queensland, Australia. This setting provided a suitable platform to apply a participatory research design to the development and implementation of the HDSS. Therefore, the HDSS was a pilot study examined the impact of this collaborative process, and the subsequent implementation of the HDSS on the way decision-making was perceived across the LBHC. As for the method, based on a systematic literature review, a comprehensive planning framework for creating healthy communities has been developed. This was followed by using a mixed method design, data were collected through both qualitative and quantitative methods. Specifically, data were collected by adopting a participatory action research (PAR) approach (i.e., PAR intervention) that informed the development and conceptualisation of the HDSS. A pre- and post-design was then used to determine the impact of the HDSS on decision-making. The findings of this study revealed a meaningful framework for organising information to guide planning for healthy communities. This conceptual framework provided a comprehensive system within which to organise existing data. The PAR process was useful in engaging stakeholders and decision-making in the development and implementation of the online GIS-based DSS. Through three PAR cycles, this study resulted in heightened awareness of online GIS-based DSS and openness to its implementation. It resulted in the development of a tailored system (i.e., HDSS) that addressed the local information and planning needs of the LBHC. In addition, the implementation of the DSS resulted in improved decision- making and greater satisfaction with decisions within the LBHC. For example, the study illustrated the culture in which decisions were made before and after the PAR intervention and what improvements have been observed after the application of the HDSS. In general, the findings indicated that decision-making processes are not merely informed (consequent of using the HDSS tool), but they also enhance the overall sense of ‗collaboration‘ in the health planning practice. For example, it was found that PAR intervention had a positive impact on the way decisions were made. The study revealed important features of the HDSS development and implementation process that will contribute to future research. Thus, the overall findings suggest that the HDSS is an effective tool, which would play an important role in the future for significantly improving the health planning practice.

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ID Code: 50783
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Yigitcanlar, Tan, Pathak, Virendra, & Kendall, Elizabeth
Keywords: healthy cities, healthy communities, health planning, framework for health information, collaborative planning, collaborative health planning, framework for developing healthy cities and communities, participatory action research, decision support systems, geographic information systems, decision-making impact, content analysis, evaluation, Queensland, Australia, Logan Beaudesert, Logan Beaudesert health coalition
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 06 Jun 2012 03:16
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:22

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