Assessing the network of agencies in local communities that promote healthy eating and lifestyles among populations with limited resources

Ruopeng An, Naiman A Khan, Emily Loehmer, Jennifer McCaffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: We assessed the network of agencies in local communities that promote healthy eating and lifestyles among populations with limited resources. Methods: Network surveys were administered among 159 Illinois agencies identified as serving limited-resource audiences categorized into 8 types: K-12 schools, early childhood centers, emergency food providers, health-related agencies, social resource centers, low-income/subsidized housing complexes, continuing education organizations, and others. Network analysis was conducted to examine 4 network structures-communications, funding, cooperation, and collaboration networks between agencies within each county/county cluster. Results: Agencies in a network were found to be loosely connected, indicated by low network density. Reporting accuracy might be of concern, indicated by low reciprocity. Agencies in a network are decentralized rather than centralized around a few influential agencies, indicated by low betweenness centrality. There is suggestive evidence regarding homophily in a network, indicated by some significant correlations within agencies of the same type. Agencies connected in one network are significantly more likely to be connected in all the other networks as well. Conclusions: Promoting healthy eating and lifestyles among populations with limited resources warrants strong partnership across agencies in communities. Network analysis serves as a useful tool to evaluate community partnerships and facilitate coalition building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of health behavior
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2017

Keywords

  • At-risk communities
  • Community health promotion
  • Diet
  • Network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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