Psychosocial Intervention Psychosocial Intervention
Psychosocial Intervention 24 (2015) 177-84 - Vol. 24 No.3 DOI: 10.1016/j.psi.2015.07.006
Small worlds or worlds apart? Using network theory to understand the research-practice gap
¿Mundos pequeños o mundos separados? Usando la teoría de redes para comprender la brecha investigación-práctica
Zachary P. Neal, , Jennifer Watling Neal, Jennifer A. Lawlor, Kristen J. Mills
Michigan State University, USA
Received 16 June 2015, Accepted 21 July 2015
Abstract

The implementation of effective community interventions can be challenging for many reasons, including financial and time costs, lack of infrastructure, local contextual variations, and barriers to fidelity. But, prior to all of these is the challenge of limited information exchange between the researchers developing interventions and the practitioners implementing them, or the so-called research-practice gap. In this paper, we use network theory and review a dozen small world experiments to understand the research-practice gap, identifying three key lessons: (1) spatial and social distances are related to the severity of the gap, (2) social boundaries may lead to echo chambers and closed loops, and (3) wider gaps reduce the likelihood of successful information exchange. From these lessons, we recommend that researchers and practitioners should rely on the assistances of information brokers who know people they do not know and who are different from themselves.

Keywords
  • Social network
  • Small world
  • Research to practice gap
  • Information sharing
Resumen

La implementación de intervenciones comunitarias efectivas es un reto por muchas razones, que van desde los costes financieros y de tiempo a la falta de infraestructura, la diversidad de contextos locales y los obstáculos a la fidelidad. Pero antes de todo esto se cuenta el intercambio limitado de información entre los investigadores que desarrollan intervenciones y los profesionales que las implementan, que suele denominarse la “brecha entre la investigación y la práctica”. En este artículo utilizamos la teoría de redes y revisamos una docena de experimentos de mundo pequeño para comprender la brecha ciencia-práctica, obteniendo tres lecciones fundamentales: (1) las distancias espaciales y sociales se relacionan con la severidad de la brecha, (2) las fronteras sociales pueden traducirse en cámaras de eco y circuitos cerrados, y (3) las brechas más amplias reducen la probabilidad de un intercambio de información con éxito. A partir de estas lecciones se recomienda que los investigadores y los profesionales recurran a la ayuda de intermediarios que conocen a personas que ellos no conocen y que son diferentes a ellos.

Keywords
  • Red social
  • mundo pequeño
  • brecha de la investigación a la práctica
  • intercambio de información
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Tabak et al. (2012) reviewed 61 models in total but 11 of these focused primarily or solely on implementation rather than diffusion or dissemination.

Prepared for Special Issue on Network Analysis for Social and Community Interventions in Psychosocial Intervention, edited by Isidro Maya Jariego & Daniel Holgado Ramos.

A preliminary small world experiment asked a sample of starting persons living in Kansas to deliver a message to the wife of a divinity school student living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Psychosocial Intervention 24 (2015) 177-84 - Vol. 24 No.3 DOI: 10.1016/j.psi.2015.07.006