Creating datasets and statistical methods enabling health service researchers to explore how health outcomes and behaviors spread in social networks

Social network analysis is an emerging science based on the notion that how a person behaves is dependent in large part on how that person is tied into a larger web of social connections. Previous work funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others suggests that understanding patterns and structures of social networks is as important to understanding health care systems and health behaviors as understanding the attributes of a given individual or care setting. Understanding how health behaviors and health care practices spread within social networks could improve our understanding of a wide array of health and health care phenomena (such as obesity, insurance coverage, substance abuse and public health) and reveal new approaches to improve health care policy and practice. Unfortunately, our ability to objectively assess the influence social networks have on health and health care is limited because existing data sets and methods are insufficient to permit rigorous analysis. This project seeks to create new data sets and develop innovative statistical methods that, if this project is successful, will enable the health services research community to more thoroughly explore the spread of health outcomes and behaviors -- both good and bad -- within complex, real-world social networks that evolve across time.

Learn about Social Networks Research

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $653,556.00

Awarded on: 6/25/2007

Time frame: 7/1/2007 - 6/30/2010

Grant Number: 58729


Harvard Medical School

25 Shattuck Street
Boston, 02115-6092


Nicholas Alexander Christakis
Project Director