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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 9169-9180; doi:10.3390/ijerph120809169

The Relationship of Policymaking and Networking Characteristics among Leaders of Large Urban Health Departments

Beaumont Foundation, 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 1310E Bethesda, Maryland, MD 20814, USA
Brown School, Center for Public Health Systems Science, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, MO 63130, USA
Director, Big Cities Health Coalition, National Association of County and City Health Officials, 1100 17th Street, NW, Seventh Floor, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 29 July 2015 / Published: 6 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Network Analysis and Public Health)
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Background: The relationship between policy networks and policy development among local health departments (LHDs) is a growing area of interest to public health practitioners and researchers alike. In this study, we examine policy activity and ties between public health leadership across large urban health departments. Methods: This study uses data from a national profile of local health departments as well as responses from a survey sent to three staff members (local health official, chief of policy, chief science officer) in each of 16 urban health departments in the United States. Network questions related to frequency of contact with health department personnel in other cities. Using exponential random graph models, network density and centrality were examined, as were patterns of communication among those working on several policy areas using exponential random graph models. Results: All 16 LHDs were active in communicating about chronic disease as well as about use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD). Connectedness was highest among local health officials (density = .55), and slightly lower for chief science officers (d = .33) and chiefs of policy (d = .29). After accounting for organizational characteristics, policy homophily (i.e., when two network members match on a single characteristic) and tenure were the most significant predictors of formation of network ties. Conclusion: Networking across health departments has the potential for accelerating the adoption of public health policies. This study suggests similar policy interests and formation of connections among senior leadership can potentially drive greater connectedness among other staff. View Full-Text
Keywords: public health systems; network research; big cities health coalition; urban health; policy networks public health systems; network research; big cities health coalition; urban health; policy networks

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Leider, J.P.; Castrucci, B.C.; Harris, J.K.; Hearne, S. The Relationship of Policymaking and Networking Characteristics among Leaders of Large Urban Health Departments. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 9169-9180.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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