Using social network analysis to plan, promote and monitor intersectoral collaboration for health in rural India

Connie Hoe, Binita Adhikari, Douglas Glandon, Arindam Das, Navpreet Kaur, Shivam Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background As population health and well-being are influenced by multiple factors that cut across sectoral boundaries, an intersectoral approach that acknowledges and leverages the multiple determinants, actors and sectors at play is increasingly seen as critical for achieving meaningful and lasting improvements. In this study, we utilize social network analysis (SNA) to characterize the intersectoral collaboration between the organizations working on maternal & child health (MCH) and water & sanitation (WASH) before and immediately after the implementation of HCL Foundation (HCLF)-funded HCL Samuday Project (2015–2017) in a rural block of Uttar Pradesh state, India. While SNA has been used to examine public health issues, few have used it monitor stakeholder relationships, intervene, improve and facilitate project implementation involving intersectoral partnerships, particularly in the context of a low-and middle-income countries. Method An organization-level SNA was conducted with 31 key informants from 24 organizations working on MCH and/or WASH in Kachhauna, Uttar Pradesh, India. Data were collected using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews between June and September 2017. Density, centrality and homophily were calculated to describe the network and a qualitative analysis was also conducted to identify the strengths and weaknesses of collaboration between organizations working on MCH and WASH. Results Overall, our findings showed that the network of organizations working on MCH and WASH in Kachhauna grew in number since the implementation of Samuday. HCLF rapidly achieved centrality, thus positioning the organization to serve as a gatekeeper of information and enabling it to play a coordinator role within the network. Direct collaboration between other organizations working on MCH and WASH was low at both time points. Interviews with key informants indicated widespread interest in increasing interorganizational interactions and engagement throughout the network. Conclusion This study demonstrates the feasibility and practical application of SNA for projects like Samuday that involve intersectoral collaboration. It also provides lessons about the use of SNA with organizations as the unit of analysis and in the context of rural India, including challenges, practical considerations, and limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0219786
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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