What is it about?

By shrewdly picking people based on their structural location within face-to-face social networks (i.e., who they know and who their friends know), it is possible to more rapidly and completely induce update of desirable public health interventions. For instance, we can get more people to use iron-fortified salt in urban India, for example, thereby reducing anemia in mothers and infants.

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Why is it important?

Finding a small group of people within a population who can prompt wholesale change in the population means that 1) we can start cascades of desirable behaviors in many settings, and 2) save money by not having to reach every member of a population.

Perspectives

This project was exciting to our team because it involved many branches of science (from network science to public health to statistics) and because it merged field work in a challenging setting in Mumbai, India, with theoretically complex but practically easy-to-use approaches to changing the behavior of populations for the better. IT was gratifying to do this work for all the foregoing reasons.

Nicholas Christakis
Yale University

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This page is a summary of: Algorithms for seeding social networks can enhance the adoption of a public health intervention in urban India, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2120742119.
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