Meikirch model

Health as a complex adaptive system

According to the Meikirch model health is a „complex adaptive system“. In science this term describes a system that is nonlinear. This implies that influences on the system from the outside do not act in proportion to their strength. Even significant positive forces do necessarily improve health and negative influences may not force the system towards disease. Yet, sometimes minimal stimuli may lead to very strong repercussions.

According to the Meikirch model health consists of five components:

  • Demands of life
  • Biologically given potential
  • Personally acquired potential
  • Social determinants of health
  • Environmental determinants of health

These five components are interacting with each other by ten complex interactions.

Well-functioning cooperation enables health

Whenever the five components and the ten complex interactions (double arrows) cooperate in a purposeful way, health may result. More specifically, a person is healthy, if by the two potentials she or he is in a position to respond satisfactorily to the demands of life.

In depth description of the Meikirch model

Johannes Bircher, Eckhart G. Hahn

Understanding the nature of health: New perspectives for medicine and public health. Improved wellbeing at lower costs

F1000Research 2016, 5:167 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7849.1)     pdf

Theories Concerning
Health and Disease
Type of thinking


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Personal experience

Scientific: Meikirch-Model
Scientific argumentation
Rational mind