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J Prim Prev. 2005 Jul;26(4):279-98.

Social networks and community prevention coalitions.

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Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, Henderson Building South Room 109, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


This study investigates the links between community readiness and the social networks among participants in Communities That Care (CTC), community-based prevention coalitions. The coalitions targeted adolescent behavior problems through community risk factor assessments, prioritization of risk factors, and selection/implementation of corresponding evidence-based family, school, and community programs. Key leaders (n = 219) in 23 new CTC sites completed questionnaires focusing on community readiness to implement CTC and the respondents' personal, work, and social organization links to other key leaders in the community. Outside technical assistants also completed ratings of each community's readiness and early CTC functioning. Measures of network cohesion/integration were positively associated with readiness, while centralization was negatively associated. These results suggest that non-centralized networks in which ties between members are close and direct may be an indicator of community readiness. In addition, we found different associations between readiness and different domains of social relations. EDITORS' STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS: The authors present the promising practice of using social network analysis to characterize the functioning of local prevention coalitions and their readiness to implement a community-based prevention initiative. Researchers and community planners will benefit from the lessons in this article, which capitalizes on a large sample and multiple informants. This work raises interesting questions about how to combine the promotion of coalition functioning while simultaneously encouraging diversity of coalition membership.

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