A population health approach in education to support children's early development: A Critical Interpretive Synthesis

Ashleigh L. Wilson, Jessie M. Jovanovic, Yasmin E. Harman-Smith, Paul R. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary objective of this review is to investigate what is currently known about early childhood education planning, population health models and their relation to children's development. A systematic review using the Critical Interpretive Synthesis method was undertaken, guided by a preliminary research question, "How can a population heath approach be applied to educational planning to support children's early development?" which acted as a compass and guide throughout the process. The initial search yielded 20,122 results, of which 42 were included in the review. Four synthetic constructs emerged (1) Elements of population health models exist within communities and can help improve outcomes for more children, (2) Inter-disciplinary collaboration and partnerships possess unique opportunities to influence children's development, (3) Children's development can be influenced at a variety of levels, and (4) System change requires a range of drivers and supports. Within education, there are several models which are used to improve outcomes for children and families. Although a population health approach to planning does not explicitly exist, the results from this review indicate that it would indeed be plausible to adapt the population health approach to sites and schools, and that doing so would be advantageous for children's development. However, implementing such an approach requires more than desire for change and demands system changes and supports. A protocol for the review was published on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO), registration number CRD42018098835 on 31st July 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0218403
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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