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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e45113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045113. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Representative contact diaries for modeling the spread of infectious diseases in Taiwan.

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Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Recent studies of infectious diseases have attempted to construct more realistic parameters of interpersonal contact patterns from diary-approach surveys. To ensure that such diary-based contact patterns provide accurate baseline data for policy implementation in densely populated Taiwan, we collected contact diaries from a national sample, using 3-stage systematic probability sampling and rigorous in-person interviews. A representative sample of 1,943 contact diaries recorded a total of 24,265 wide-range, face-to-face interpersonal contacts during a 24-hour period. Nearly 70% of the contacts occurred outside of respondents' households. The most active age group was schoolchildren (ages 5-14), who averaged around 16-18 daily contacts, about 2-3 times as many as the least active age groups. We show how such parameters of contact patterns help modify a sophisticated national simulation system that has been used for years to model the spread of pandemic diseases in Taiwan. Based on such actual and representative data that enable researchers to infer findings to the whole population, our analyses aim to facilitate implementing more appropriate and effective strategies for controlling an emerging or pandemic disease infection.

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