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Network analysis as a tool to assess the intersectoral management of health determinants at the local level: A report from an exploratory study of two Cuban municipalities

By Nino Pagliccia, Jerry Spiegel, Milagros Alegret, Mariano Bonet, Barbara Martinez and Annalee Yassi

Abstract

Intersectoral action on health determinants has long been recognized as an important factor in achieving better population health. Nevertheless, there is no process that provides empirical evidence to policy-makers on the extent of intersectoral collaboration. We aimed to fill this gap by conducting case studies in two municipalities in Cuba, a country well known for its intersectoral practice and good health outcomes. We surveyed an intentional sample of key members of Health Councils - virtual intersectoral spaces in Cuba - about links and related actions they had with other sectors on eleven health determinants. Using network analysis we were able to produce measures to evaluate and characterize the network of sectors. Findings show that the two municipalities were similar in reported importance of health determinants, extent of long-term engagement in intra-sectors actions and level of collaboration with other sectors for virtually all determinants. Municipalities also showed similar overall levels of collaboration for most determinants when considered as a network of different sectors (network density). However municipalities showed differences in the central role played by some sectors (centrality index). We further used the network analysis blockmodeling technique to typify the municipal Health Councils. We found that while one Health Council can be typified by a single well connected network structure, the other has two distinct structures with more sparse connections. We conclude that intersectoral collaboration can be assessed by the use of network analysis measurements. This approach is novel and provides evidence to decision-makers about their role and their effort towards collaboration in achieving better health outcomes.Cuba Network analysis Health determinants Intersectoral action Public health Health council

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