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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

The impact of social networks on knowledge transfer in long-term care facilities: Protocol for a study

Anne E Sales1*, Carole A Estabrooks1 and Thomas W Valente2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

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Implementation Science 2010, 5:49  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-49

Published: 23 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Social networks are theorized as significant influences in the innovation adoption and behavior change processes. Our understanding of how social networks operate within healthcare settings is limited. As a result, our ability to design optimal interventions that employ social networks as a method of fostering planned behavior change is also limited. Through this proposed project, we expect to contribute new knowledge about factors influencing uptake of knowledge translation interventions.

Objectives

Our specific aims include: To collect social network data among staff in two long-term care (LTC) facilities; to characterize social networks in these units; and to describe how social networks influence uptake and use of feedback reports.

Methods and design

In this prospective study, we will collect data on social networks in nursing units in two LTC facilities, and use social network analysis techniques to characterize and describe the networks. These data will be combined with data from a funded project to explore the impact of social networks on uptake and use of feedback reports. In this parent study, feedback reports using standardized resident assessment data are distributed on a monthly basis. Surveys are administered to assess report uptake. In the proposed project, we will collect data on social networks, analyzing the data using graphical and quantitative techniques. We will combine the social network data with survey data to assess the influence of social networks on uptake of feedback reports.

Discussion

This study will contribute to understanding mechanisms for knowledge sharing among staff on units to permit more efficient and effective intervention design. A growing number of studies in the social network literature suggest that social networks can be studied not only as influences on knowledge translation, but also as possible mechanisms for fostering knowledge translation. This study will contribute to building theory to design such interventions.