Social networks are social structures comprised of nodes, which can be individuals, organizations, or even societies. In a social network, nodes are tied to each other based on a type of social relationship, such as friendship, kinship, sexual contact, or economic exchange. Social network analysis (SNA) is the measuring, mapping, analyzing, and interpretation of social network structures, the ties between nodes, and the flows that occur within and across networks. Information, disease pathogens, ideas, money, and many other things can flow across networks. The goal of this funding announcement is to advance the science of SNA in ways that will enhance its utility for understanding and addressing public health issues. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) calls for research with the potential to advance and expand the utility of SNA and methods in studies of health and disease. This FOA is not intended to encourage proposals on the development of intervention strategies that operate on social networks, but rather to strengthen basic science knowledge on which intervention strategies may later be based.
Social network analysis allows researchers to describe, integrate, and analyze spatial, mathematical, and substantive dimensions of the social structures formed as a result of ties formed between persons, organizations, or other types of nodes. Researchers can represent networks graphically, locate them spatially, and describe and analyze their properties mathematically. These spatial and mathematical relations (i.e., “networks”) can then be related to the content and quality of interpersonal ties, individual or group phenotypes and behaviors, and the well-being and dynamics of groups and communities. SNA can be used to yield more meaningful measures of social integration in studies focusing on individual outcomes and to investigate the social dynamics underlying community function and population health. SNA can be used to study the transmission of viral infections, behaviors, attitudes, information, or the diffusion of medical practices.
Date due: May 3, 2010 (Letter of intent); June 3, 2010 (Proposal)
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