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YIGH and Emory Lead International Study Team to Collect Social Contact Research Data

December 19, 2019

Saad Omer, director, Yale Institute for Global Health and Ben Lopman, professor, Emory University, lead an international study team at Yale University to provide insights into study designs for disease transmission focused projects.

Human contact is central to understanding disease transmission, yet, we know little about the nature, frequency and determinants of human interactions. The Yale Institute for Global Health in collaboration with Emory University recently hosted multi-country study team that included epidemiologists, engineers, and anthropologists who use standardized methods such as proximity-sensing devices and social contact diaries to collect data from urban and rural populations and lower- and middle-income countries. The purpose of the workshop was to identify practical designs of the study tools. Co-investigators provided insights into the local socio-cultural contexts regarding appropriate use of the wearable sensor devise technology for their respective field-sites.

This data enables researchers to characterize patterns of social interaction across age ranges to understand the transmission of infectious diseases as well as collect social contact data from workplace settings to assess the effectiveness of various social distancing strategies in reducing or slowing the transmission of pandemic influenza in the United States.

The two initial studies of this initiative -- entitled “Comprehensive Profiling of Social Mixing Patterns in Resource Poor Countries” and “Comprehensively Profiling Social Mixing Patterns in Workplace Settings to Model Pandemic Influenza Transmission” are sponsored by the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NIH awarded study is the first multi-site study with the overall goal to use standardized methods such as wearable proximity-sensing devices and social contact diaries to collect social contact data from urban and rural populations and lower- and middle-income countries. Standardized social contact diaries will be used to characterize the patterns of social contacts and mixing across the age range, in urban and rural LMIC settings. Social contacts of infants with their household members in LMICs will be profiled by analyzing high resolution measurements collected using wearable proximity-sensing devices.The CDC funded study is the first multi-site study with the overall goal to use standardized methods such as wearable proximity-sensing devices and social contact diaries to collect social contact data from workplace settings in the United States.

Submitted by Alyssa Cruz on December 19, 2019