Abstract: 'the Communication Really Starts with Me.' Agency Leadership Perspectives on the Development of Trauma-Informed Partnership Networks (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

'the Communication Really Starts with Me.' Agency Leadership Perspectives on the Development of Trauma-Informed Partnership Networks

Friday, January 14, 2022
Liberty Ballroom I, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth Siantz, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Amy Lansing, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, San Diego, CA
Kimberly Center, MA, Program Evaluation Manager, University of California, San Diego, CA
Danielle Casteel, MA, Program Evaluation Specialist, University of California, San Diego, CA
Nisha Sanghvi, MPH, Program Evaluation Specialist, University of California, San Diego, CA
Vivian Silva, Program evaluator, University of California San Diego, CA
Todd Gilmer, PhD, Professor, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Background and Purpose: Trauma-informed communities address trauma by establishing service networks and cross-sector coalitions that advocate for the use of trauma-informed practices, and support communities in building their capacity to identify, plan, and deliver trauma-informed care in a way not possible through the efforts of a single agency. Diffusion of Innovation Theory holds that new ideas must be communicated through social networks before they are translated into widespread practices. Whether and how newly implemented trauma-informed community-based partnership networks communicate about their practice innovations is unclear. This mixed method presentation examines the structure and operation of communication networks and the perspectives of agency leaders on the development of these networks in 6 trauma-informed community-based partnerships in Los Angeles County participating in a 4-year initiative.

Methods: This study follows an explanatory ‘QUAN +qual’ mixed-methods design. First, a web-based survey, which asked partnership members to describe their communication networks, collected sociometric data from six trauma-informed community-based partnerships in 2020, during their second year of operations. Using empirically based thresholds specified by the Network Diagnostic Tool, social networks were evaluated based on size, density, and centralization. Qualitative interviews, which focused on cross-partnership communication and partnership development, were conducted with partnership leaders. Qualitative interviews were audio recorded, professionally transcribed, and analyzed using constant comparative methods informed by grounded theory. Consistent with our mixed-methods approach, results from social network and qualitative analyses were triangulated to determine if the findings were convergent, expansive, or discrepant.

Results: Across six networks, N = 289 individuals participated in the social network survey. Social network analysis revealed that partnerships varied with respect to density and centralization, and three network subtypes emerged: (1) high density and high centralization; (2) low density, high centralization, and (3) low density/low centralization. Our exhaustive sample of N=8 partnership leaders described their goals in strengthening cross-partnership communication and differences in communication structure in team environment, which were related to their own influence on cross-partnership communication, a history of collaboration amongst the partnership’s organizations, and interest on the part of partnering organizations.

Conclusions: This study illustrates the range of INN2 network configurations. Our qualitative data expanded on our social network results by highlighting the contributions of network leadership in influencing partnership communication dynamics. While leaders of these partnerships discussed the goal of strengthening cross-partnership communication, these network dynamics illustrate a need to develop strategies that support community-based partnerships to work towards a ‘higher density and low centralization’ network configuration, which would indicate a strong cross-partnership communication network, with less communication focused on a single agency leader. Future research is needed to understand whether and how these network diagnostics program outcomes.