Networks and New Methods for Global Health

A mid-winter meeting of the American Sociological Association Methods Section

(if this page is displayed funny, go to View > Encoding  and pick Western European)


Saturday, February 22, 2008.

 Social Science Research Institute

Duke University


Sponsored by:

Duke University Arts & Sciences Council

Department of Sociology

Global Health Institute

Center for Network Studies




The methodological difficulties for understanding social effects on global health are deep, and often turn on key questions surrounding networks, models & measurement.  For example, a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates a clear social contagion effect for obesity (Christakis 2007).  This work required being able to measure social network information over time and then model and measure network effects independent of factors that typically plague observational studies.  Similar work has identified “tipping points” for numbers-of-partners and the persistence of HIV, social isolation and suicide, and peer effects on health-related behaviors such as smoking and exercise, to name only a few. 


However, identifying these effects is challenging, since network data violate many of the standard assumptions of statistical modeling and networks are difficult to sample.  To identify network effects, one must be able to sample the health-relevant relations from a sufficiently broad section of a population and then follow the diffusion of the health behavior/outcome across those relations.  This has typically involved collecting data on a full population, which is expensive and rarely complete.  Once collected, one must model the outcomes while accounting for case inter-dependence, which violates many common statistical assumptions. 


This conference, hosted under the auspices of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Methods annual mid-winter meeting, brings together a diverse collection of methods experts to share insights that are both directly and indirectly relevant for our understandings of global health disparities. 




Directions to conference:

We'll be meeting at the Social Science Research Institute. SSRI is located at 2024 W.

Main street in Durham, just off of 9th street.

For those driving you're own cars, I've posted maps to SSRI from:

Duke Campus

Chapel Hill  (Close up of the last bit)

RDU Airport:

Follow signs for I-40 West to the Durham Freeway (Hwy 147)

Exit 147 at Broadstreet / Swift Ave

Follow Broad to Main, Turn Left

Map of that last bit


Parking is free in front of the building, stick to the spots that say "Duke Visitor".


Getting there

If you're staying at the Hilton Near Duke:

The Hilton runs a shuttle that leaves every half hour. They tell me he leaves promptly on the hour/half-hour marks. Tell the driver you're going to The Social Science Research Institute, at the Erwin Mill Building, 2024 W. Main St, just of "9th Street" (the local campus shop area). He should be able to get you there.


If you are staying at the Washington Duke Inn:

Please email Moody and let him know. We'll have a car waiting in the morning, just a matter of making sure on the number of people heading over and when.


If you're staying elsewhere (Millenium Hotel, Fuqua, etc.), and don't have your own transportation, send me an email and I'll make sure we have something worked out.


Friday Evening Reception – Please RSVP!

Lisa Keister and James Moody will host an informal reception at their house Friday evening (6:00 – 8:00ish). We’ll arrange rides for those without cars, please let Moody know if you’d like to join us.  For those driving their own cars, here’s how you get there:



            143 Pinecrest Road

            Durham, NC 27705


            Google Maps Coords: 35°59'0.28"N 78°56'26.33"W


            (It’s a nice walk through Duke Forrest, for those staying at the Washington Duke, though it will be after dark).


Participant List: Who’s coming!


Saturday Evening Reception:  If you’re sticking around Saturday evening, let Moody know; a party’s in the works…


Organizer Contact:  James Moody: