Many of my research projects examine the relationship between social network structures and chronic illness management, particularly in the contexts of aging, disability, and mental health. My dissertation examined the link between social interaction and neurocognitive disorders. Among the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, over half live in the community among caregivers whose unpaid assistance constitutes their primary form of care. In a series of projects, I study the caregiver support networks of new patients coping with the onset of Alzheimer's disease. I examine how social inequalities affect the availability of caregiver support, how support evolves during the course of care, and whether or not support moderates loss of cognitive function. This research contributes to community-based care initiatives through identifying how, when, and why caregivers are effective intervention partners for medical professionals. I presented a portion of my work in this area at the 2018 Duke Social Networks and Health Workshop - the video of that presentation is available on YouTube.
A second line of research applies network analysis to health care delivery. In one project, I use a dataset of 18 million health insurance claims records to construct a national map of patient-sharing among physicians treating patients for Alzheimer’s disease. I then examine the relationship between connectedness in the physician network and the timing and costs of care received by patients. This research uses network analysis and big data to develop a network-based conceptualization of coordinated care between health care providers. I illustrate how health inequalities experienced by disadvantaged populations may emerge from the hidden architecture of the medical system itself. Building on my research in this area, I previously organized sessions on Health Care Provider Networks at Sunbelt 2018 and Sunbelt 2019.
- Brea Perry, et al. “Within-Subject Change in Psychotropic Prescribing Patterns Among Youth in Foster Care Associated With a Peer-to-Peer Physician Consultation Program.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- Emma D. Cohen & Will R. McConnell. 2019. "Fear of Fraudulence: Graduate School Program Environments and the Impostor Phenomenon." The Sociological Quarterly, 60(3), 1-22.
- McConnell, William R. 2017. “Cultural Guides, Cultural Critics: Distrust of Doctors and Social Support during Mental Health Treatment.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 54(4), 503-519.
- McConnell, William R., and Brea Perry. 2016. “The Revolving Door: Patient Needs and Network Turnover during Mental Health Treatment”, in Brea L. Perry (ed.), 50 Years after Deinstitutionalization: Mental Illness in Contemporary Communities (Advances in Medical Sociology, 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 119-145.
- Maupome, Gerardo, William R. McConnell, and Brea Perry. 2016. “Dental Problems and Familismo: Social Network Discussion of Oral Health Issues among Adults of Mexican Origin Living in the United States.” Community Dental Health, 33, 303-308.
- Maupome, Gerardo, William R. McConnell, Brea Perry, R. Mariño, and Eric R. Wright. 2016. “Psychological and Behavioral Acculturation in a Social Network of Mexican-Americans in the United States, and their Use of Dental Services.” Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 44, 540-548.
- An, Weihua, and William R. McConnell. 2015. “The Origins of Asymmetric Ties in Friendship Networks: From Status Differential to Self-perceived Centrality.” Network Science, 3(2), 269-92.
- Resh, William, Saba Siddiki, and William R. McConnell. 2014. “Does the Network Centrality of Government Actors Matter? Examining the Role of Government Organizations in Aquaculture Partnerships.” Review of Policy Research, 31(6), 584-609.