178002 Using social network analysis to evaluate regional partnerships: A tutorial and program application conducted for the Network for a Healthy California, 2001-2006

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 12:50 PM

Jennifer Gregson, MPH, MA , Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section, California Department of Public Health and Public Health Institute, Sacramento, CA
Marcy Sowa, MA , Department of Sociology, U.C. Davis, Davis, Ca, CA
Heather Kohler Flynn, PhD , Department of Sociology, U.C. Davis, Davis, Ca, CA
Introduction. This study uses social network analysis (SNA) to evaluate regional partnerships for the Network for a Healthy California (Network) 2001-2006. The Network is a USDA-funded Food-Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE) state network. This study uses the Network as a tutorial to demonstrate SNA statistics and the application to program evaluation. We ask if California's program is able to 1) establish and maintain partnerships among local agencies that provide statewide access to a local audience, 2) improve collaboration in a region over time, and 3) include otherwise unaffiliated local agencies to expand program reach?

Methods. This study examines 11 regional partnerships. SNA focuses on the relationship between entities rather than the units involved. Statistics (density p=.084, fragmentation, and distance p=.050) tested for changes over time. A cross-sectional time-series regression was used for deeper analysis.

Results. Regional sociograms for each region (a mathematical model of the partnership web) demonstrated improved access to local audiences; more counties were participating in remote areas. The statistical analysis demonstrated that over time, collaboration improved and new agencies were included. The final model (p<.000) indicated that current partners are reaching out to new, unaffiliated agencies more often than linking with existing partners. Distance between partners decreased, which is consistent with a tighter, more collaborative network. These findings indicate that, statewide, the Network has met its partnering goals.

Discussion. SNA takes a macro, structural approach to assessing partnerships that is replicable. This unique lens on the organizational form can be complemented by more traditional partnership evaluation.

Learning Objectives:
1) Learn to make a sociogram, a mathematical model of social relationships. 2) Learn the basic analytical elements of a social network analysis. 2) Observe the use of social network analysis as an evaluation tool.

Keywords: Partnerships, Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceptualized and supervised the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.