Exchanging and using research evidence in health policy networks: a statistical network analysis
OBJECTIVE The objective of this study is to develop a statistical model to assess factors associated with information seeking in a Canadian public health department. METHODS Managers and professional consultants of a public health department serving a large urban population named whom they turned to for help, whom they considered experts in evidence-informed practice, and whom they considered friends. Multilevel regression analysis and exponential random graph modeling were used to predict the formation of information seeking and expertise-recognition connections by personal characteristics of the seeker and source, and the structural attributes of the social networks. RESULTS The respondents were more likely to recognize the members of the supervisory/administrative division as experts. The extent to which an individual implemented evidence-based practice (EBP) principles in daily practice was a significant predictor of both being an information source and being recognized as expert by peers. Friendship was a significant predictor of both information seeking and expertise-recognition connections. CONCLUSION The analysis showed a communication network segregated by organizational divisions. Managers were identified frequently as information sources, even though this is not a part of their formal role. Self-perceived implementation of EBP in practice was a significant predictor of being an information source or an expert, implying a positive atmosphere towards implementation of evidence-informed decision making in this public health organization. Results also implied that the perception of accessibility and trust were significant predictors of expertise recognition.