How prepared are we for cross-border outbreaks? An exploratory analysis of cross-border response networks for outbreaks of multidrug resistant microorganisms in the Netherlands and Germany

Jacklien H.J. Maessen*, Jörg Raab, Manon Haverkate, Martin Smollich, Henriëtte L.G. ter Waarbeek, Renske Eilers, Aura Timen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background The emergence and spread of multidrug resistant microorganisms is a serious threat to transnational public health. Therefore, it is vital that cross-border outbreak response systems are constantly prepared for fast, rigorous, and efficient response. This research aims to improve transnational collaboration by identifying, visualizing, and exploring two cross-border response networks that are likely to unfold during outbreaks involving the Netherlands and Germany. Methods Quantitative methods were used to explore response networks during a cross-border outbreak of carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae in healthcare settings. Eighty-six Dutch and German health professionals reflected on a fictive but realistic outbreak scenario (response rate 70%). Data were collected regarding collaborative relationships between stakeholders during outbreak response, prior working relationships, and trust in the networks. Network analysis techniques were used to analyze the networks on the network level (density, centralization, clique structures, and similarity of tie constellations between two networks) and node level (brokerage measures and degree centrality). Results Although stakeholders mainly collaborate with stakeholders belonging to the same country, transnational collaboration is present in a centralized manner. Integration of the network is reached, since several actors are beneficially positioned to coordinate transnational collaboration. However, levels of trust are moderately low and prior-existing cross-border working relationships are sparse. Conclusion Given the explored network characteristics, we conclude that the system has a promising basis to achieve effective coordination. However, future research has to determine what kind of network governance form might be most effective and efficient in coordinating the necessary cross-border response activity. Furthermore, networks identified in this study are not only crucial in times of outbreak containment, but should also be fostered in times of non-crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0219548
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume14
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019

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