Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Public Health: The impact of social networks

Dr. Tom Valente is doing some interesting work investigating the effect of social networks in influencing behavior from a Public Health perspective. This relates to the study of doctor behavior when prescribing treatments (heavy influence from peers) as well as patient behavior. I was listening to some interesting podcasts from the University of Washington School of Public Heatlh.

Thomas Valente is Associate Professor and Director of the MPH Program, Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. In his talk, he touched on collaborative diffusion of behavior and the key influencing factors. What I really liked was his introduction on the topic of social networks.

For instance, one hears much about social networks related to the Internet and sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Nevertheless, Tom makes an excellent point that the study of social networks dates back many decades.

Tom talked about the fact that, in order to promote change, social networks and, what he calls “collaborative diffusion,” are of paramount importance. What makes this so interesting within today’s context is that today’s Internet technologies (e.g., collaborative networks) can pretty much turbo-charge the exact factors which Tom highlighted as key to promote a more relationship-based healthcare and wellness system.

You can download the podcast by right clicking here and selecting to “save target” to your hard drive. You can then listen to this with your computer or your portable MP3 player.

The University of Washington has an excellent series of podcasts listed here.

No comments: