Social network analysis of child and adult interorganizational connections

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent Health Services; Mental Health Services; Young Adult; Transition to Adult Care


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Objective: Because most programs serve either children and their families or adults, a critical component of service and treatment continuity in mental health and related services for individuals transitioning into adulthood (ages 14-25) is coordination across programs on either side of the adult age divide.

Methods: This study was conducted in Clark County, Washington, a community that had received a Partnership for Youth Transition grant from the Federal Center for Mental Health Services. Social Network Analysis methodology was used to describe the strength and direction of each organization's relationship to other organizations in the transition network. Interviews were conducted before grant implementation (n=103) and again four years later (n=99).

Results: The findings of the study revealed significant changes in the nature of relationships between organizations over time. While the overall density of the transition service network remained stable, specific ways of connecting did change. Some activities became more decentralized while others became more inclusive as evidenced by the increase in size of the largest K-core. This was particularly true for the activity of "receiving referrals." These changes reflected more direct contact between child and adult serving organizations.

Conclusions and Implications for Practice: The two separate child and adult systems identified at baseline appeared more integrated by the end of the grant period. Having greater connectivity among all organizations regardless of ages served should benefit youth and young adults of transition age. This study provides further evidence that Social Network Analysis is a useful method for measuring change in service system integration over time.

DOI of Published Version



Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2012 Winter;35(3):265-72. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychiatric rehabilitation journal

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed