Background The healthcare management literature states that physicians often coordinate their activities within and between organizations through social networks. Previous studies have also documented the relationship between professional networks and physicians' attitudes toward evidence-based medicine (EBM). The present study sought associations between physicians' self-reported attitudes toward EBM and the formation of inter-physician collaborative network ties. Methods Primary data were collected from 297 clinicians at six hospitals belonging to one of the largest local health units of the Italian National Health Service. Data collection used a survey questionnaire that inquired about professional networks and physicians' characteristics. Social network analysis was performed to describe inter-physician professional networks. Multiple regression quadratic assignment procedures were performed to assess the relationship between self-reported attitudes toward EBM and clinicians' propensity to collaborate. Results Physicians who reported similar attitudes toward EBM were more likely to exchange information and advice through collaborative relationships (β = 0.0198; p < 0.05). Similarities in other characteristics, such as field of specialization (β = 0.1988; p < 0.01), individual affiliations with hospital sites (β = 0.0845; p < 0.01), and organizational clinical directorates (β = 0.0459; p < 0.01), were also significantly related to physicians' propensity to collaborate. Conclusions Communities of practice within healthcare organizations are likely to contain separate clusters of physicians whose members are highly similar. Organizational interventions are needed to foster heterophily whenever multidisciplinary cooperation is required to provide effective health care.
- evidence-based medicine