Primary health care service delivery networks for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: using social network methods to describe interorganisational collaboration in a rural setting
McDonald, J.; Jayasuriya, R.; Harris, M.Fort.
Australian Journal of Primary Health 17(3): 259-267
Adults with type 2 diabetes or with behavioural risk factors require comprehensive and well coordinated responses from a range of health care providers who often work in different organisational settings. This study examines three types of collaborative links between organisations involved in a rural setting. Social network methods were employed using survey data on three types of links, and data was collected from a purposive sample of 17 organisations representing the major provider types. The analysis included a mix of unconfirmed and confirmed links, and network measures. General practices were the most influential provider group in initiating referrals, and they referred to the broadest range of organisations in the network. Team care arrangements formed a small part of the general practice referral network. They were used more for access to private sector allied health care providers and less for sharing care with public sector health services. Involvement in joint programs/activities was limited to public and non-government sector services, with no participation from the private sector. The patterns of interactions suggest that informal referral networks provide access to services and coordination of care for individual patients with diabetes. Two population subgroups would benefit from more proactive approaches to ensure equitable access to services and coordination of care across organisational boundaries: people with more complex health care needs and people at risk of developing diabetes.