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Soc Sci Med. 2014 Aug;114:188-96. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.03.024. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Whose social capital matters? The case of U.S. urban public hospital closures and conversions to private ownership.

Author information

1
Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA. Electronic address: Michelle.Ko@ucsf.edu.
2
RAND Corporation, 1776 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA. Electronic address: derose@rand.org.
3
Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA. Electronic address: needlema@ucla.edu.
4
Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA. Electronic address: nponce@ucla.edu.

Abstract

Prior literature on social capital and health has predominantly focused on health outcomes and individual access to healthcare services. It is not known to what degree, if any, community social capital influences the performance or behaviors of public hospitals, a key source of healthcare for disadvantaged communities in the United States. In this study we developed measures of community bridging social capital - horizontal social networks between heterogeneous groups of similar social position - and linking social capital - vertical networks across the status hierarchy - relevant to public hospitals. We examined associations between social capital, and U.S. urban public hospital closures and conversions to private ownership from 1987 to 2007. We found that higher voting participation was associated with a greater hazard of public hospital closure over time (p < 0.01), whereas the number of business, professional and political organizations per 10,000 residents was associated a greater hazard of conversion (p < 0.05). Additional measures of bridging and linking social capital were not associated with either outcome. Taken together, our findings suggest that, at least historically, horizontal forms of social capital among more privileged groups (e.g., business, professional, and political associations) bear influence on public hospital outcomes. Specific efforts to increase engagement of disadvantaged groups and connect them with decision-makers may be needed to fully realize the potential of linking social capital to influence local healthcare policy promoting social protection.

KEYWORDS:

Closures; Privatizations; Public hospitals; Safety net; Social capital; United States

PMID:
24919649
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.03.024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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