A Computational Approach to Characterizing the Impact of Social Influence on Individuals’ Vaccination Decision Making

Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong S.A.R.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 04/2013; 8(4):e60373. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060373
Source: PubMed


In modeling individuals vaccination decision making, existing studies have typically used the payoff-based (e.g., game-theoretical) approaches that evaluate the risks and benefits of vaccination. In reality, whether an individual takes vaccine or not is also influenced by the decisions of others, i.e., due to the impact of social influence. In this regard, we present a dual-perspective view on individuals decision making that incorporates both the cost analysis of vaccination and the impact of social influence. In doing so, we consider a group of individuals making their vaccination decisions by both minimizing the associated costs and evaluating the decisions of others. We apply social impact theory (SIT) to characterize the impact of social influence with respect to individuals interaction relationships. By doing so, we propose a novel modeling framework that integrates an extended SIT-based characterization of social influence with a game-theoretical analysis of cost minimization. We consider the scenario of voluntary vaccination against an influenza-like disease through a series of simulations. We investigate the steady state of individuals' decision making, and thus, assess the impact of social influence by evaluating the coverage of vaccination for infectious diseases control. Our simulation results suggest that individuals high conformity to social influence will increase the vaccination coverage if the cost of vaccination is low, and conversely, will decrease it if the cost is high. Interestingly, if individuals are social followers, the resulting vaccination coverage would converge to a certain level, depending on individuals' initial level of vaccination willingness rather than the associated costs. We conclude that social influence will have an impact on the control of an infectious disease as they can affect the vaccination coverage. In this respect, our work can provide a means for modeling the impact of social influence as well as for estimating the effectiveness of a voluntary vaccination program.

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    • "Under this assumption, rational vaccine decision-making will get the highest personal utilities , that is, there exists a Nash equilibrium where no individuals could be better off by unilaterally changing to a different strategy [3, 15]. In [35] , Xia and Liu employed a computational approach to characterize the impact of social influence on individuals' vaccination decision-making while in [36] they also investigated the impact of the two factors, information of the disease prevalence and the perceived vaccination risk, and fading coefficient of awareness spread. Recently, Xu and Cresmman [38] built a nonlinear epidemic model with the smoothed best response by game-theory based decisions on vaccination. "
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    • "Using such frameworks, Bauch [13], Fu et al. [15], Salathé and Bonhoeffer [20], and Reluga et al. [19] use models with imitation dynamics to predict potential vaccine uptake in populations . Similarly, Xia and Liu [21] base vaccination decisions not only on minimization of the associated costs, but also the impact that social influence has on each individual. d'Onofrio et al. [22] use an information dependent model where vaccination decisions are based on private and public information gathered about a disease. "
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    • "Three of the curves inFig. 12 are close to one another, which means that the simulation results obtained by the SEIR model in combination with the new contact matrix or the contact matrix used in [31] [32] are consistent with the observed dynamics of the infectious virus in practice, especially the dotted line inFig. 12. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Researchers have recently paid attention to social contact patterns among individuals due to their useful applications in such areas as epidemic evaluation and control, public health decisions, chronic disease research and social network research. Although some studies have estimated social contact patterns from social networks and surveys, few have considered how to infer the hierarchical structure of social contacts directly from census data. In this paper, we focus on inferring an individual's social contact patterns from detailed census data, and generate various types of social contact patterns such as hierarchical-district-structure-based, cross-district and age-district-based patterns. We evaluate newly generated contact patterns derived from detailed 2011 Hong Kong census data by incorporating them into a model and simulation of the 2009 Hong Kong H1N1 epidemic. We then compare the newly generated social contact patterns with the mixing patterns that are often used in the literature, and draw the following conclusions. First, the generation of social contact patterns based on a hierarchical district structure allows for simulations at different district levels. Second, the newly generated social contact patterns reflect individuals social contacts. Third, the newly generated social contact patterns improve the accuracy of the SEIR-based epidemic model.
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