Physician social capital and the reported adoption of evidence-based medicine: exploring the role of structural holes

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Mar;72(5):798-805. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.12.011. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


The present study explores the role that professional networks play in the propensity of hospital physicians to adopt and implement evidence-based medicine (EBM) into clinical practice. Using attributional and relational data collected from a sample of 207 physicians in six Italian National Health Service hospitals, social network techniques were used to analyze the structure of the networks representing professional interactions among the surveyed hospital physicians. Ordinal logistic regression was applied to analyze the association between the structural features of physicians' networks and their self-reported propensity to implement EBM into daily practice. Physicians who were highly constrained in their interpersonal networks were less likely to report adopting EBM, suggesting that the cohesion induced by social interactions may hamper, rather than foster, the diffusion of scientific information within professional groups. We discuss the implications of the observed interaction patterns for hospital administrators and policy makers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Support*