Abstract: Background: While most coalition research focuses on studying the effects of peer relationship structure, this study examines the coevolution of coalition structure and behavior across three communities in the U.S. with the goal of identifying coalition dynamics that impact a childhood obesity prevention intervention. Methods: Over two years (2018–2020), three communities within the U.S. participated in a childhood obesity prevention intervention at different times. This intervention was guided by the Stakeholder-Driven Community Diffusion theory, which describes an empirically testable mechanism for promoting community change. Measures are part of the Stakeholder-driven Community Diffusion (SDCD) survey with demonstrated reliability, which include knowledge of and engagement with childhood obesity prevention and social networks. Data from three coalition-committees and their respective networks were used to build three different stochastic actor-oriented models. These models were used to examine the coevolution of coalition structure with coalition behavior (defined a priori as knowledge of and engagement with obesity prevention) among coalition-committee members and their nominated alters (Network A) and coalition-committee members only (Network B). Results: Overall, coalitions decrease in size and their structure becomes less dense over time. Both Network A and B show a consistent preference to form and sustain ties with those who have more ties. In Network B, there was a trend for those who have higher knowledge scores to increase their number of ties over time. The same trend appeared in Network A but varied based on their peers’ knowledge in and engagement with childhood obesity prevention. Across models, engagement with childhood obesity prevention research was not a significant driver of changes in either coalition network structure or knowledge. Conclusions: The trends in coalition Network A and B’s coevolution models may point to context-specific features (e.g., ties among stakeholders) that can be leveraged for better intervention implementation. To that end, examining tie density, average path length, network diameter, and the dynamics of each behavior outcome (i.e., knowledge in and engagement with childhood obesity prevention) may help tailor whole-of-community interventions. Future research should attend to additional behavioral variables (e.g., group efficacy) that can capture other aspects of coalition development and that influence implementation, and to testing the efficacy of network interventions after trends have been identified.
Citation: Moore, T.R., Pachucki, M.C., Hennessy, E. and Economos, C.D., 2022. Tracing coalition changes in knowledge in and engagement with childhood obesity prevention to improve intervention implementation. BMC Public Health, 22(1), pp.1-14.