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Am J Health Promot. 2010 Sep-Oct;25(1):12-8. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.080826-QUAN-163.

Informal training in staff networks to support dissemination of health promotion programs.

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  • 1Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. shoba_ramanadhan@dfci.harvard.edu



To study informal skill transfer via staff networks as a complement to formal training among afterschool childcare providers implementing a health promotion program.


Cross-sectional, sociometric network analysis.


Boston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) afterschool programs implementing the iPLAY program.


All 91 staff members at 20 sites were eligible; 80 completed the survey (88% response rate).


At the network level, network density measured system-level connectedness. At the staff level, the independent variable was out degree, the number of individuals to whom respondents noted a program-related connection. The dependent variable was skill gains, the number of key implementation skills gained from the network.


We mapped the staff program-related social network. We utilized multiple linear regression to estimate the relationship between out degree and skill gains, and we adjusted for clustering of staff in sites.


Most staff (77%) reported gaining at least one skill from the network, but only 2% of potential network connections were established. The regression model showed that out degree (i.e., number of program-related contacts) was significantly associated with skill gains (beta = .48, p < .01) independent of other variables.


Informal skill transfer in staff networks may be a useful complement to formal training for implementation of health promotion programs, but informal skill transfer was likely underutilized in this network. Future research employing longitudinal and/or multisite data should examine these findings in greater detail.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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