Health information-seeking behaviour of mothers with children five years of age and younger in Vanuatu was examined using the structural properties of social networks. Data were collected from a rural village from two islands and an urban settlement in the capital, Port Vila, by face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire. Sociometric data on the structure of the network, the characteristics of key informants, and associations with outside sources of health information were analysed as interpersonal predictors of health promotion and behavior change. Rural mothers preferred the health advice of biomedical practitioners for diarrheal disease over traditional custom practitioners. Interpersonal connections were restricted in the urban mother network indicating that mothers were merely acquaintances or do not seek health advice from each other. Our findings suggest that biomedical practitioners are the best option for diffusing health and hygiene information for rural and urban mothers. Traditional healers and paraprofessionals could be strategically used to complete the missing links in network connectedness to optimally spread new information. The novel use of cross-sectional social network data can create a baseline evaluation to purposefully frame a health intervention. Our study provided a unique explanation of how network analysis offers insight into how key players can be identified and the circumstances in which they are likely to be able to influence hygiene practices of their peers.
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