141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Identifying gaps in and improving integration of urban behavioral health services through social network analysis

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Erik Carlton, MS, DrPH , Division of Health Systems Management and Policy, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
Behavioral health disparities among low-income mothers are well-established. Many low-income mothers receiving public assistance and/or who are involved with the child welfare system experience mental health, substance abuse, and/or intimate partner violence problems individually or in concert that can prevent self-sufficiency and family stability. Evidenced-based programs have been developed to address these disparities at the individual level (e.g. treatment for substance abuse). However, very little work has been done to examine systems-level barriers e.g. conflicting policies, lack of collaboration or integration among agencies, accessibility and/or affordability of services experienced by these mothers and which can perpetuate these disparities. This study leverages an innovative blend of social network analysis, survey, and semi-structured interview methodologies to examine both individual and systemic barriers and identify opportunities for better integration among behavior health providers to reduce the disparities experienced by these mothers.

Using social network analysis, the network information received from participants was used to identify existing relationships among system partners, qualify the strength of these relationships, highlight prominent nodes (points of convergence of multiple relationships) and determine potential gaps in the behavioral health system related to low-income mothers. Survey and interview data from agency participants further illuminated perceived systemic barriers and opportunities for greater systemic integration. Survey data from low-income mothers helped determine the prevalence of barriers to self-sufficiency and family stability, as well as perceptions of systems-level barriers.

These findings are presented along with practical implications for both researchers and practitioners looking to improve behavioral health services among low-income mothers.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess the utility of social network analysis to identify gaps in urban behavioral health services for low-income mothers Describe opportunities to improve access to needed behavioral health services among low-income mothers Describe individual and systemic barriers to self-sufficiency and family stability among low-income mothers Identify the central components and importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach to the provision of behavioral health services among low-income mothers with mental health, substance abuse, and/or intimate partner violence problems as barriers to self-sufficiency and family stability

Keywords: Social Work, Network Analysis

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as principal investigator on a funded-study which employs social network analysis to identify gaps and improve integration among behavioral health providers working with low-income mothers. I have received advanced training in social network analysis methods and tools. Prior to my current position as assistant professor of health systems management and policy, I spent more than three years co-directing a $6MM annual state-funded program delivering integrated behavioral health services to low-income mothers.
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.