Using Social Network Analysis as a Method to Assess and Strengthen Participation in Health Promotion Programs in Vulnerable Areas

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Abstract

This article provides an example of the application of social network analysis method to assess community participation thereby strengthening planning and implementation of health promotion programming. Community health promotion often takes the form of services that reach out to or are located within communities. The concept of community reflects the idea that people’s behavior and well-being are influenced by interaction with others, and here, health promotion requires participation and local leadership to facilitate transmission and uptake of interventions for the overall community to achieve social change. However, considerable uncertainty exists over exact levels of participation in these interventions. The article draws on a mixed methods research within a community development project in a vulnerable neighborhood of a town in Denmark. It presents a detailed analysis of the way in which social network analysis can be used as a tool to display participation and nonparticipation in community development and health promotion activities, to help identify capacities and assets, mobilize resources, and finally to evaluate the achievements. The article concludes that identification of interpersonal ties among people who know one another well as well as more tenuous relationships in networks can be used by community development workers to foster greater cohesion and cooperation within an area.

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