Social network analysis and agent-based modeling in social epidemiology

Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. .
Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations (Impact Factor: 1.58). 02/2012; 9(1):1. DOI: 10.1186/1742-5573-9-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The past five years have seen a growth in the interest in systems approaches in epidemiologic research. These approaches may be particularly appropriate for social epidemiology. Social network analysis and agent-based models (ABMs) are two approaches that have been used in the epidemiologic literature. Social network analysis involves the characterization of social networks to yield inference about how network structures may influence risk exposures among those in the network. ABMs can promote population-level inference from explicitly programmed, micro-level rules in simulated populations over time and space. In this paper, we discuss the implementation of these models in social epidemiologic research, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Network analysis may be ideal for understanding social contagion, as well as the influences of social interaction on population health. However, network analysis requires network data, which may sacrifice generalizability, and causal inference from current network analytic methods is limited. ABMs are uniquely suited for the assessment of health determinants at multiple levels of influence that may couple with social interaction to produce population health. ABMs allow for the exploration of feedback and reciprocity between exposures and outcomes in the etiology of complex diseases. They may also provide the opportunity for counterfactual simulation. However, appropriate implementation of ABMs requires a balance between mechanistic rigor and model parsimony, and the precision of output from complex models is limited. Social network and agent-based approaches are promising in social epidemiology, but continued development of each approach is needed.

1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Agent-based models (ABMs) are capable of constructing individual system components at different levels of representation to describe non-linear relationships between those components. Compared to a traditional mathematical modeling approach, agent-based models have an inherent spatial component with which they can easily describe local interactions and environmental heterogeneity. Furthermore, agent-based model maps interactions among agents inherently to the biological phenomenon by embedding the stochastic nature and dynamics transitions, thereby demonstrating suitability for the development of complex biological processes. Recently, an abundance of literature has presented application of agent-based modeling in the biological system. This review focuses on application of agent-based modeling to progression in simulation of infectious disease in the human immune system and discusses advantages and disadvantages of agent-based modeling application. Finally, potential implementation of agent-based modeling in relation to infectious disease modeling in future research is explored.
    Open Journal of Modelling and Simulation 01/2014; 2(1):12-22. DOI:10.4236/ojmsi.2014.21004
  • Source
    Marketing Theory 01/2015; forthcoming. DOI:10.1177/1470593115572671 · 1.06 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A new concept of within-individual epidemiology termed "myEpi" is introduced. It is argued that traditional epidemiological methods, which are usually applied to populations of humans, can be applicable to a single individual and thus used for self-monitoring and forecasting of "epidemic" outbreaks within an individual. Traditional epidemiology requires that results be generalizable to a predefined population. The key component of myEpi is that a single individual may be viewed as an entire population of events and thus, the analysis should be generalizable to this population. Applications of myEpi are aimed for, but not limited to, the analysis of data collected by individuals with the help of wearable sensors and digital diaries. These data can include physiological measures and records of healthy and risky behaviors (e.g., exercise, sleep, smoking, food consumption, alcohol, and drug use). Although many examples of within-individual epidemiology exist, there is a pressing need for systematic guidance to the analysis and interpretation of intensive individual-level data. myEpi serves this need by adapting statistical methods (e.g., regressions, hierarchical models, survival analysis, agent-based models) to individual-level data.
    Frontiers in Public Health 08/2014; 2:97. DOI:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00097