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Strengthening suicide prevention networks: examining the relationship between interorganizational collaboration and tie strength




Menger, Lauren, author
Stallones, Lorann, advisor
Cross, Jennifer, committee member
Henry, Kimberly, committee member

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Despite extensive prevention efforts, suicide continues to be the tenth leading cause of death in the United States (Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2012). One possible explanation may be lack of coordination between the organizations that provide suicide prevention services. Because client well-being often relies on the integrated actions of multiple organizations, the factors that promote interorganizational collaboration should be identified and fostered. The present study involved structured interviews with agency representatives in the suicide prevention network in one Colorado community. The objective of this exploratory study was twofold: 1) to assess the cohesiveness and pattern of relationships between organizations across seven collaborative domains related to suicide prevention, and 2) to identify the indicators of relationship strength that are most relevant to different domains of interorganizational collaboration and collaborative intensity. Results were examined through a combination of social network analysis and statistical correlation and regression analyses. Overall, organizations reported collaborating more on sharing information and resources and sending and receiving referrals than they did on developing service infrastructure, and coordinating training and screening activities. Across all seven collaborative domains, there was a subset of organizations that was well connected and another group of organizations that consistently played a more peripheral role in the network. Model comparisons revealed that the influence of relationship strength indicators varied across the seven collaborative domains and that trust was the most significant predictor of collaborative intensity. Strategies to improve collaboration among organizations are suggested.


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interorganizational collaboration
referral network
social network analysis
suicide prevention
tie strength


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