Background: The present study examines the structure and operation of social networks of information and advice and their role in making decisions as to whether to adopt new evidence-based practices (EBPs) among agency directors and other program professionals in 12 California counties participating in a large randomized controlled trial.Methods: Interviews were conducted with 38 directors, assistant directors, and program managers of county probation, mental health, and child welfare departments. Grounded-theory analytic methods were used to identify themes related to EBP adoption and network influences. A web-based survey collected additional quantitative information on members of information and advice networks of study participants. A mixed-methods approach to data analysis was used to create a sociometric data set (n = 176) for examination of associations between advice seeking and network structure.Results: Systems leaders develop and maintain networks of information and advice based on roles, responsibility, geography, and friendship ties. Networks expose leaders to information about EBPs and opportunities to adopt EBPs; they also influence decisions to adopt EBPs. Individuals in counties at the same stage of implementation accounted for 83% of all network ties. Networks in counties that decided not to implement a specific EBP had no extra-county ties. Implementation of EBPs at the two-year follow-up was associated with the size of county, urban versus rural counties, and in-degree centrality. Collaboration was viewed as critical to implementing EBPs, especially in small, rural counties where agencies have limited resources on their own.Conclusions: Successful implementation of EBPs requires consideration and utilization of existing social networks of high-status systems leaders that often cut across service organizations and their geographic jurisdictions.Trial Registration: NCT00880126.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Health Informatics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health