Social networks and high healthcare utilization: building resilience through analysis
Baker, Michael D.
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This thesis explores the links that exist between human beings and how the presence, or absence, of connectivity within a person's social network impacts one's health and well-being. Through the analysis of both the social and clinical sciences, this research explores the question: What role do social relationships, and their associated networks, play in the lives of high healthcare utilizers? This thesis studies the origins of human connection and presents the science of social network analysis to demonstrate how interconnected relationships influence the well-being of networked individuals. The findings indicate that the quality of an individual's social network can have a positive or negative effect on the individual's health. Those who are socially isolated in their community often have difficulty managing complex health conditions and navigating the fractured national healthcare system. Deficits in community healthcare and social support networks cause these individuals to frequently utilize expensive and finite public safety and hospital emergency department resources for primary healthcare services. This research presents four recommendations to promote improved healthcare system navigation for high healthcare utilizers by not only understanding the patients' social networks, but also the healthcare provider network.
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