Integrating Mixed Methods Social Network Analysis to Assess Community Academic Partnerships

Online Publication Date:
February 13, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
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**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) volume 16.2. All rights reserved.**

Background: Community academic partnerships (CAPs) in public health are increasingly utilized to integrate community voice into decision-making processes of health-related interventions, programs, and practice. However, community partners’ collaboration experiences remain understated in the literature. Thus, there is a need to further advance methodological approaches that examine the effectiveness of CAPs, while also highlighting community voice to, ultimately, improve public health outcomes.
Objectives: (1) To demonstrate how a practical approach to mixed methods social network analysis (MMSNA) can highlight power dynamics in community health partnerships and use MMSNA data to build relationships across stakeholders for systems change efforts
Methods: MMSNA was used to examine a CAP focused on public health equity in a Midwest region. The project applied a sequential mixed methods design (QUAN→ QUAL) with a network survey and individual semi-structured interviews. Both data strands served the function of expansion, where quantitative data identified what relationships existed in the network, level of activity, and factors for motivations, providing breadth of collaboration. Qualitative data further elaborated on how partners perceived these experiences, providing depth and contextualizing quantitative results.
Conclusions: Systems level approaches must be applied to capture broader contexts (e.g., community, interpersonal, and individual) surrounding community health partnerships. The use of MMSNA maximizes benefits from a systems methodology—SNA—with qualitative interviews that allow for the critical assessment of network structure and community centered perspectives. Community health partnerships are encouraged to utilize this approach in order to deliver more sustainable public health efforts centered on the community that is directly impacted.