Wicked problems are particularly complex, persistent and hard-to-resolve. They are commonly encountered in public policy work, and notably within the public health sector. Wicked problems defy the usual linear approaches and are not amenable to straightforward solutions. One of the reasons they are particularly difficult to resolve is because they are usually intertwined with other complex issues. Health inequalities, for example, may be tied to a multitude of issues such as poverty, education, race/ethnicity or gender.
This fact sheet defines the essential features of wicked problems, differentiates them from other kinds of problem, and discusses how they might be addressed.