Journal Article

Infection in Social Networks: Using Network Analysis to Identify High-Risk Individuals

R. M. Christley, G. L. Pinchbeck, R. G. Bowers, D. Clancy, N. P. French, R. Bennett and J. Turner

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 162, issue 10, pages 1024-1031
Published in print November 2005 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Infection in Social Networks: Using Network Analysis to Identify High-Risk Individuals

Show Summary Details


Simulation studies using susceptible-infectious-recovered models were conducted to estimate individuals' risk of infection and time to infection in small-world and randomly mixing networks. Infection transmitted more rapidly but ultimately resulted in fewer infected individuals in the small-world, compared with the random, network. The ability of measures of network centrality to identify high-risk individuals was also assessed. “Centrality” describes an individual's position in a population; numerous parameters are available to assess this attribute. Here, the authors use the centrality measures degree (number of contacts), random-walk betweenness (a measure of the proportion of times an individual lies on the path between other individuals), shortest-path betweenness (the proportion of times an individual lies on the shortest path between other individuals), and farness (the sum of the number of steps between an individual and all other individuals). Each was associated with time to infection and risk of infection in the simulated outbreaks. In the networks examined, degree (which is the most readily measured) was at least as good as other network parameters in predicting risk of infection. Identification of more central individuals in populations may be used to inform surveillance and infection control strategies.

Keywords: disease outbreaks; disease transmission; infection; population surveillance; HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; R0, basic reproductive number

Journal Article.  5037 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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