Online Program

Are we really filling the gaps? Using social network analysis to measure the impact of efforts to integrate systems accessed by individuals experiencing homelessness

Monday, November 2, 2015

Danielle Vaclavik, B.A., Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Molly Brown, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are often involved in a number of service systems (e.g., education, child welfare, healthcare, homeless services) and face unique barriers to access due to stressors associated with residential instability. Further, systems frequently operate in silos with limited cross-service knowledge and communication, thus placing the burden on the homeless community to navigate each system separately. To bridge gaps in access to services among vulnerable individuals in Chicago, a homeless service provider has initiated efforts to integrate systems through coalition building, creating cross-system initiatives, and by bringing personnel from multiple systems together for trainings. Though these systems integration strategies appear promising, measuring the impact of such a broad-based initiative poses a significant challenge. In this presentation, we propose social network analysis (SNA) as a useful methodology for evaluating the impact of systems integration. SNA is a statistical analysis that measures the structures and processes of a network of interconnected individuals or organizations. In the context of systems integration, SNA can provide information on strong and weak lines of communication among members across systems, thereby identifying targets for implementing systems integration strategies. SNA can also be utilized to examine changes in communication patterns over time. This presentation will give an overview of SNA theory and will propose an SNA research design that can be applied to systems integration initiatives. The inclusion of SNA processes will make systems integration efforts more targeted and efficient and provide a language in which to evaluate and guide their success.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Design an evaluation plan for systems integration activities using social network analysis.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted evaluation work in homeless services over the past 18 months of my psychology doctoral program. I have a particular interest in social network analysis and am currently completing an independent study project that will inform the proposed presentation.
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.