Using social networking to understand social networks: Analysis of a mobile phone closed user group used by a ghanaian health team

Nadi Nina Kaonga, Alain Labrique, Patricia Mechael, Eric Akosah, Seth Ohemeng-Dapaah, Joseph Sakyi Baah, Richmond Kodie, Andrew S. Kanter, Orin Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The network structure of an organization influences how well or poorly an organization communicates and manages its resources. In the Millennium Villages Project site in Bonsaaso, Ghana, a mobile phone closed user group has been introduced for use by the Bonsaaso Millennium Villages Project Health Team and other key individuals. No assessment on the benefits or barriers of the use of the closed user group had been carried out. Objective: The purpose of this research was to make the case for the use of social network analysis methods to be applied in health systems research-specifically related to mobile health. Methods: This study used mobile phone voice records of, conducted interviews with, and reviewed call journals kept by a mobile phone closed user group consisting of the Bonsaaso Millennium Villages Project Health Team. Social network analysis methodology complemented by a qualitative component was used. Monthly voice data of the closed user group from Airtel Bharti Ghana were analyzed using UCINET and visual depictions of the network were created using NetDraw. Interviews and call journals kept by informants were analyzed using NVivo. Results: The methodology was successful in helping identify effective organizational structure. Members of the Health Management Team were the more central players in the network, rather than the Community Health Nurses (who might have been expected to be central). Conclusions: Social network analysis methodology can be used to determine the most productive structure for an organization or team, identify gaps in communication, identify key actors with greatest influence, and more. In conclusion, this methodology can be a useful analytical tool, especially in the context of mobile health, health services, and operational and managerial research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Electronic health
  • Evaluation research
  • Ghana
  • Global health
  • Mobile health
  • Rural health
  • Social network analysis
  • Sociology
  • Telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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