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Using Social Network Analysis to Assess Mentorship and Collaboration in a Public Health Network
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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Addressing chronic disease burden requires the creation of collaborative networks to promote systemic changes and engage stakeholders. Although many such networks exist, they are rarely assessed with tools that account for their complexity. This study examined the structure of mentorship and collaboration relationships among members of the Healthy Aging Research Network (HAN) using social network analysis (SNA).


    We invited 97 HAN members and partners to complete an online social network survey that included closed-ended questions about HAN-specific mentorship and collaboration during the previous 12 months. Collaboration was measured by examining the activity of the network on 6 types of products: published articles, in-progress manuscripts, grant applications, tools, research projects, and presentations. We computed network-level measures such as density, number of components, and centralization to assess the cohesiveness of the network.


    Sixty-three respondents completed the survey (response rate, 65%). Responses, which included information about collaboration with nonrespondents, suggested that 74% of HAN members were connected through mentorship ties and that all 97 members were connected through at least one form of collaboration. Mentorship and collaboration ties were present both within and across boundaries of HAN member organizations.


    SNA of public health collaborative networks provides understanding about the structure of relationships that are formed as a result of participation in network activities. This approach may offer members and funders a way to assess the impact of such networks that goes beyond simply measuring products and participation at the individual level.

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