3 Citations (SciVal)


Context: Participatory systems mapping is increasingly used to gain insight into the complex systems surrounding non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. Objectives: To identify and synthesize studies that used participatory systems mapping in the context of non-communicable diseases. Design: Scoping review. Eligibility criteria: Peer-reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2022. Study selection: Studies that focused on NCDs and/or related risk factors, and included participants at any stage of their system’s mapping process, were included. Categories for analysis: The main categories for analysis were: (1) problem definition and goal-setting, (2) participant involvement, (3) structure of the mapping process, (4) validation of the systems map, and (5) evaluation of the mapping process. Results: We identified 57 studies that used participatory systems mapping for a variety of purposes, including to inform or evaluate policies or interventions and to identify potential leverage points within a system. The number of participants ranged from 6 to 590. While policymakers and professionals were the stakeholder groups most often included, some studies described significant added value from including marginalized communities. There was a general lack of formal evaluation in most studies. However, reported benefits related mostly to individual and group learning, whereas limitations described included a lack of concrete actions following from systems mapping exercises. Conclusions: Based on the findings of this review, we argue that research using participatory systems mapping would benefit from considering three different but intertwined actions: explicitly considering how different participants and the power imbalances between them may influence the participatory process, considering how the results from a systems mapping exercise may effectively inform policy or translate into action, and including and reporting on evaluation and outcomes of the process, wherever possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

This study has been funded through PhD funding from the University of Bath, in affiliation with the SPECTRUM consortium (MR/S037519/1). SPECTRUM is funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP). UKPRP is an initiative funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), and The Health Foundation and Wellcome.


  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Participatory systems mapping
  • Review
  • Systems thinking
  • Unhealthy commodities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'The use of participatory systems mapping as a research method in the context of non-communicable diseases and risk factors: a scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Gilmore, A.



    Project: Research council

Cite this