Annals of Applied Statistics

Efficient estimation of age-specific social contact rates between men and women

Jan van de Kassteele, Jan van Eijkeren, and Jacco Wallinga

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Social contact patterns reveal with whom individuals tend to socialize, and therefore to whom they transmit respiratory infections. We infer highly detailed age-specific contact rates between the sexes using a hierarchical Bayesian model that smooths while simultaneously guaranteeing the inherent reciprocity of contact rates. Application of this approach to social contact data from a large prospective survey confirms a tendency that people, especially children and adolescents, mostly contact other people of their own age and sex, and reveals that women have more contact with children than men. These findings imply different exposure patterns between the two sexes for specific age groups, which agrees with available observations.

Article information

Ann. Appl. Stat., Volume 11, Number 1 (2017), 320-339.

Received: August 2016
Revised: November 2016
First available in Project Euclid: 8 April 2017

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Social contact patterns hierarchical Bayesian model Gaussian Markov random field integrated nested Laplace approximations infectious disease transmission


van de Kassteele, Jan; van Eijkeren, Jan; Wallinga, Jacco. Efficient estimation of age-specific social contact rates between men and women. Ann. Appl. Stat. 11 (2017), no. 1, 320--339. doi:10.1214/16-AOAS1006.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplementary material: Efficient estimation of age-specific social contact rates between men and women. In the Supplementary Material we describe the data pre-procession steps, the construction of the node IDs and structure matrix, and how the model is implemented in INLA. We further describe how to aggregate the contact intensities and rates. All are accompanied by R code. A table is provided with age- and sex-specific contact intensities and rates.