Channels of Change: Contrasting Network Mechanisms in the Use of Interventions

  • Jennifer Watling Neal
  • Zachary P. Neal
  • Marc S. Atkins
  • David B. Henry
  • Stacy L. Frazier
Original Paper


This study informs community science, and seeks to narrow the research-to-practice gap, by examining how the interpersonal networks within a setting influence individuals’ use of interventions. More specifically, it explores the role of two network mechanisms—cohesion and structural similarity—in urban elementary school teachers’ use of interventions designed to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for students. Lagged regression models examine how position in advice giving networks influenced weekly use of the daily report card and peer assisted learning by kindergarten through fourth grade teachers in three schools. Results indicate that intervention use spreads among teachers with similar patterns of advice-giving relationships (i.e., via structural similarity), rather than from teachers who are sources of advice (i.e., via cohesion). These results are consistent with findings in other settings, and suggest that researchers wishing to increase the use of an intervention should select change agents based on their patterns of their relationships, rather than on their direct connections.


Social networks Diffusion Implementation Schools Interventions 



This research was funded by an NIMH National Research Service Award (PI: J.W. Neal, 1F32 MH081426-01A1) and conducted within the context of a larger NIMH intervention study (PI: Atkins, R01 MH073749). The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institutional Review Board (Research Protocol #2005-0133) and Michigan State University’s Institutional Review Board (Research Protocol #09-758) have approved the study. We would to thank the Links to Learning team, Giannina Fehler-Cabral, and all teachers and staff at the three schools where the data were collected.


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Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Watling Neal
    • 1
  • Zachary P. Neal
    • 2
  • Marc S. Atkins
    • 3
  • David B. Henry
    • 4
  • Stacy L. Frazier
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Health Research & PolicySchool of Public Health, University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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