IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 2778: Recruitment of Healthcare Staff to Social Network Studies: A Case Study Exploring Experiences, Challenges, and Considerations (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Social network analysis (SNA) is a term that describes a set of methodologies to understand and depict social relations or ties. SNA is different from other research methods in several ways that have important ethical implications, as well as specific considerations for study design. Recruitment of participants and attrition during the study, where there are several data collection time points, pose significant challenges. Furthermore, there are implications of non-participation in studies, whereby gaps in network maps may result in an inaccurate representation of how a network is working and this, in turn, means the results may be of lesser value in terms of informing policy and practice. Given the widely noted challenge of recruiting healthcare staff to research, this paper adopts a case study approach to discussing considerations for researchers, as well as offering recommendations and insights from our own research and from the published literature about how to tackle these issues. This paper examines data sourcing, decision-making about defining the network for data collection, and ethical considerations and their implications for the recruitment of healthcare staff to social network studies. We use a case study example exploring leadership in a hospital group network to illustrate techniques and challenges in the recruitment of healthcare staff.