Researchers at Yale found that targeting nominated friends who were key influencers sparked the highest level of adoption for a nutritional program that was a part of their study. Adoption of the program was 12.2% higher through the influencers.
In a novel experiment, researchers found that certain public health interventions work best when key "influencers" in a face-to-face social network are exposed to the program. What's surprising, they say, is that those key influencers are not the most socially connected people in the network.
Furthermore, those individuals can be identified through a survey method informed by network structure rather than costly and time-consuming social network mapping. The result is a cascade of behavior changes that boosts the efficiency and reach of certain programs.
"People are connected, and so their health is connected. Why not exploit this basic fact so as to improve health care delivery?" said Nicholas A. Christakis, director of the Yale Institute for Network Science and corresponding author of the study, published online May 5 in the journal The Lancet.
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