Social network visualization in epidemiology

Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler


Epidemiological investigations and interventions are increasingly focusing on social networks. Two aspects of social networks are relevant in this regard: the structure of networks and the function of networks. A better understanding of the processes that determine how networks form and how they operate with respect to the spread of behavior holds promise for improving public health. Visualizing social networks is a key to both research and interventions. Network images supplement statistical analyses and allow the identification of groups of people for targeting, the identification of central and peripheral individuals, and the clarification of the macro-structure of the network in a way that should affect public health interventions. People are inter-connected and so their health is inter-connected. Inter-personal health effects in social networks provide a new foundation for public health

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