With whom are you dealing? Using social network analysis as a tool to strengthen service delivery structures for low socioeconomic status populations

Lotte Prevo*, Liesbeth Mercken, Maria Jansen, Stef Kremers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Health disparities between populations with different socioeconomic status (SES) are increasing. Although a wide variety of support service organizations and arrangements are in place, no general overview of this social network, its reach, and harmonization of services surrounding low-SES populations are available. The present participatory health research study examined the current network structure and the utility of using social network analysis (SNA) as a tool to improve service delivery structures. Design and methods: We applied a mixed-methods study design. An online-questionnaire was used to examine the relationships among organizations assumed to support low-SES individuals in the municipality of Vaals, the Netherlands. In addition, semi-structured interviews and a networking session were used to examine the current network structure and to explore opportunities for improvement. Results: The SNA revealed a weak network structure, and all interviewed professionals mentioned that the current structure should be improved. Participants indicated that a first step would be to install a central information system. Conclusions: SNA can be a useful tool to gain more in-depth insights into the relations within a service delivery network. The professionals were assisted in discovering new organizations that could help them reach low SES populations and in harmonizing and improving their service delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1369
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2018


  • social network analysis
  • service delivery
  • low socioeconomic status populations
  • service organizations

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