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J Eval Clin Pract. 2009 Aug;15(4):755-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2009.01228.x.

Lessons from Jurassic Park: patients as complex adaptive systems.

Author information

1
Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA. katerndahl@uthscsa.edu

Abstract

RATIONALE:

With realization that non-linearity is generally the rule rather than the exception in nature, viewing patients and families as complex adaptive systems may lead to a better understanding of health and illness. Doctors who successfully practise the 'art' of medicine may recognize non-linear principles at work without having the jargon needed to label them.

METHODS:

Complex adaptive systems are systems composed of multiple components that display complexity and adaptation to input. These systems consist of self-organized components, which display complex dynamics, ranging from simple periodicity to chaotic and random patterns showing trends over time.

RESULTS:

Understanding the non-linear dynamics of phenomena both internal and external to our patients can (1) improve our definition of 'health'; (2) improve our understanding of patients, disease and the systems in which they converge; (3) be applied to future monitoring systems; and (4) be used to possibly engineer change.

CONCLUSION:

Such a non-linear view of the world is quite congruent with the generalist perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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