Supporting Cross-Company Networks in Workplace Health Promotion through Social Network Analysis-Description of the Methodological Approach and First Results from a Model Project on Physical Activity Promotion in Germany

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 26;18(13):6874. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18136874.


Cross-company networking and counseling is considered to be a promising approach for workplace health promotion in small and medium-sized enterprises. However, a systematic and empirical approach on how such networks can be developed is lacking. The aims of the present paper are to describe the approach of a social network analysis supporting the development of a cross-company network promoting physical activity and to present first results. In the process of developing the methodological approach, a common understanding of the nodes and edges within the project was elaborated. Based on the BIG-model as the theoretical framework of the project, five measuring points and an application-oriented data collection table were determined. Using Gephi, network size, degree, and distance measures, as well as density and clustering measures, were calculated and visualized in the course of the time. First results showed a continuous expansion and densification of the network. The application experience showed that the application of social network analysis in practical cross-company network development is promising but currently still very resource intensive. In order to address the current major challenges and enable routine application, the development of an application-oriented and feasible tool could make an essential contribution.

Keywords: health promotion; organizational network; physical activity; social network analysis; two-mode network; workplace.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Germany
  • Health Promotion
  • Occupational Health*
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Workplace*