Using social network analysis to identify key child care center staff for obesity prevention interventions: a pilot study
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2013, 00:00 authored by Jennifer Marks, Lisa BarnettLisa Barnett, Chad Foulkes, P Hawe, Steven AllenderSteven Allender
Introduction. Interest has grown in how systems thinking could be used in obesity prevention. Relationships between key actors, represented by social networks, are an important focus for considering intervention in systems. Method. Two long day care centers were selected in which previous obesity prevention programs had been implemented. Measures showed ways in which physical activity and dietary policy are conversations and actions transacted through social networks (interrelationships) within centers, via an eight item closed-ended social network questionnaire. Questionnaire data were collected from (17/20; response rate 85%) long day care center staff. Social network density and centrality statistics were calculated, using UCINET social network software, to examine the role of networks in obesity prevention. Results. “Degree” (influence) and “betweeness” (gatekeeper) centrality measures of staff inter-relationships about physical activity, dietary, and policy information identified key players in each center. Network density was similar and high on some relationship networks in both centers but markedly different in others, suggesting that the network tool identified unique center social dynamics. These differences could potentially be the focus of future team capacity building. Conclusion. Social network analysis is a feasible and useful method to identify existing obesity prevention networks and key personnel in long day care centers.