The value of social network analysis for evaluating academic-community partnerships and collaborations for social determinants of health research

Academic Article


  • Objective: Community-based participatory research processes build healthy communities, as well as promote trust and genuine collaborative partnerships between stakeholders. Fostering relationships is essential to promoting these partnerships, which are necessary for collaborative, coordinated, and integrated efforts toward improving health outcomes in the community. The objective of our research was to demonstrate social network analysis as an evaluative tool to assess movement toward positive health outcomes through promoting relationships. Method: Using the example of the Gulf States Health Policy Center Coalition based at Bayou Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, we demonstrate the ability of social network analysis (SNA) methods to measure and map the formation of relationships, as well as the level and frequency of these relationships. Data were collected via email using a survey of Gulf States Health Policy Center Coalition members (N=80, 87%) and analyzed using UCInet software for social network analysis in April 2016. Results: In this application of SNA to the community coalition of the Gulf States Health Policy Center, we find that, on average, coalition members doubled their own network within the coalition in a time period of <2 years and were working together more often and more collaboratively than they were before the coalition formed. Conclusions: The increased frequency and level of collaboration among the Coalition network was accompanied by a higher level of collaboration among the coalition members as posited by social network and capital theories. As such, the community engagement fostered through the Coalition has increased and thus, to date, the Gulf States Health Policy Center has been effective in promoting partnerships and collaboration.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bright CF; Haynes EE; Patterson D; Pisu M
  • Start Page

  • 337
  • End Page

  • 346
  • Volume

  • 27