Developing a typology of network alteration strategies for implementation: a scoping review and iterative synthesis

Apr 06, 2023 | Bunger

BACKGROUND: Social networks transmit knowledge, influence, and resources. These relationships among patients, professionals, and organizations can shape how innovations are disseminated, adopted, implemented, and sustained. Network alteration interventions-interventions that change or rewire social networks-have the potential to be used as implementation strategies. Yet, the types, mechanisms, and effectiveness of these interventions for implementation are unclear. This scoping review and iterative synthesis identified and described network alteration strategies that could be tested for implementation. METHODS: We used forward and backward citation tracking of influential articles on network interventions, bibliometric searches, and hand searches of peer-reviewed social network journals. At least two team members screened article titles/abstracts to identify studies that met inclusion criteria: empirical studies of an intervention, the intervention was designed to alter some element of a social network, and changes in social network metrics were measured at two or more time points. During full-text reviews, information about the network interventions, actors, ties, and main findings was extracted. Reporting was informed by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA). To develop our typology, we synthesized these results using an iterative team-based and consensus-building process. RESULTS: Fifty-three articles met the inclusion criteria. The interventions described were conducted in healthcare systems or behavioral health systems (34%), communities (26.4%), and schools (22.6%). The majority included records describing interventions designed to alter social support, information-sharing, or friendship networks (65%) among individual actors (84.9%), or to increase ties. Eight strategies emerged. Three strategies targeted the general context: (1) change the environment, (2) create groups, and (3) change the composition. Four strategies targeted individual actors: change (4) motivations, (5) skills for networking, (6) knowledge of one’s social network, and (7) prominence/roles. One strategy (8) targeted specific ties within the network (targeting a particular pair-wise relationship or changing the nature of an existing tie). CONCLUSION: The network alteration strategies in this typology provide further operational specificity for how implementation strategies target relationships. Advancing these strategies will require greater theoretical specification, the development of strategies that target professionals and organizations, and studies that examine the impact on implementation outcomes.

PubMed Abstract

Bunger, A. C., Yousefi-Nooraie, R., Warren, K., Cao, Q., Dadgostar, P., & Bustos, T. E. (2023). Developing a typology of network alteration strategies for implementation: a scoping review and iterative synthesis. Implement Sci, 18(1), 10. doi:10.1186/s13012-023-01266-3