Our Roybal Center for the Study of Social Networks and Well-Being is animated by the recognition that complex social network structures in which people are embedded play an important role in individual and collective health. The overarching goals of our work are to (1) ask significant questions about the role of social networks in producing specific outcomes related to health;and (2) develop methods of answering such questions, in part by developing novel methods of measuring networks and their effects, and in part by experimentally intervening in both face-to-face and online social networks. Our primary thematic areas of focus are """"""""novel methods for survey research and data collection"""""""" and """"""""mechanisms of behavior change."""""""" And our Roybal Center will focus on the social network underpinnings of behavioral and psychosocial factors related to well-being, such as social interaction, loneliness, disability, diverse health behaviors, adoption of new drugs, and so on. And much of our work investigates how health behaviors and """"""""peer effects"""""""" influence physical health and even life expectancy. Our Center will support research projects that examine both in-person and online social networks for the effects of patterns of network connections on health and wellbeing, and we will study how health and well-being are affected by the flow of phenomena across network ties.
Our specific aims are to: (1) establish a Center that contributes to the development of new methods and conceptual frameworks for understanding social network effects on health, health care, health behavior, and well-being;(2) fund pilot projects that examine how network structure in online and face-to-face social networks affects health;and (3) fund pilot projects that examine how the flow of behaviors, norms, information, germs, etc., within network structures takes place both in """"""""real life"""""""" social networks (e.g., health facilties and workplaces) and also in online networks;(4) translate the findings of pilot projects into concrete recommendations for helping people improve their health;and (5) translate the findings of pilot projects into policy recommendations for government, health care providers, insurers, and other stakeholders.
Our work examines how people's embeddedness in social networks affects their health. Pilot projects will be chosen for their potential translational impat and policy relevance to health issues and quality of life in aging populations. Our work has implications for governmental entities concerned with public health, for clinical groups looking for ways to improve behavioral health and psychological well-being, and for commercial entities focused on behavior change.
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