The Interconnected Web: Scientific proof

Hat Tip to Fair Game with Faith Salie

Havard Medical School’s social scientist Nicholas Christakis set out to prove how our social networks affect our health. Not surprising, the condition of an individual’s social network affect the condition of the individual. “Medical care has too great a focus on individuals,” notes Christakis, “whereas in fact health status is powerfully influenced by relationships between people. People are interconnected, and so is their health.”

Now, the idea that your friends and family affect your behavior is not ground-breaking. However, most people assume that you are affected by the people with whom you spend time.

In this study, Christakis showed that “distance did not modify the effect for other types of alters (e.g., friends or siblings) helps rule out common exposure to local environmental factors as an explanation for our observations.” Meaning, your best friend in Cleveland’s sudden weight gain is more likely to affect you than a coworker with whom you spend a great deal more time with, but are not particularly close.

Why? Christakis states: “Network phenomena might be exploited to spread positive health behaviors, in part because people’s perceptions of their own risk of illness may depend on the people around them.”

Way back in 1992, the Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee declared the need for Universal Health Care.

We’re all in this together.

Links:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12237644

http://www.hcp.med.harvard.edu/node/1378

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/4/370

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