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Epidemics. 2016 Mar;14:36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Oct 3.

Comparison of the social contact patterns among school-age children in specific seasons, locations, and times.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 40201, Taiwan, ROC; Department of Family and Community Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung 40201, Taiwan, ROC.
2
Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 40201, Taiwan, ROC.
3
Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 40201, Taiwan, ROC; Department of Family and Community Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung 40201, Taiwan, ROC. Electronic address: scchen@csmu.edu.tw.

Abstract

Social contact patterns among school-age children play an important role in the epidemiology of infectious disease. This study explored how people interact in specific seasons (flu season and non-flu season), environmental settings (city and county), and times (weekend and weekday). We conducted a survey of junior high school students (grades 7-8) using an established questionnaire during May-June 2013 and December 2013. The sample size with pair-wise comparisons for the times (weekday/weekend) and stratification by location and seasons were 75, 87, 105 and 106, respectively. The sample size with pair-wise comparisons for the seasons (flu/non-flu) and stratification by location were 54 and 83, respectively. Conversation and skin-to-skin contact behaviors were surveyed through diary-based questionnaires, of which 665 valid questionnaires were returned. There was no difference in the number of contacts during the flu and non-flu seasons, with averages of 16.3 (S.D.=12.9) and 14.6 (S.D.=9.5) people, respectively. However, statistical analysis showed that the average number of contacts in Taichung City and Yilan County were significantly different (p<0.001). Weekdays were associated with 23-28% more contacts than weekend days during both the non-flu and flu seasons (p<0.001) (Wilcoxon signed-rank test). Our work has important implications for the dynamic modeling of infectious diseases and performance analysis of human contact numbers and contact characteristics for schoolchildren in specific seasons, places, and times.

KEYWORDS:

Behavior; Contact diary; Contact patterns; Seasonal influenza; Social mixing; Taiwan

PMID:
26972512
DOI:
10.1016/j.epidem.2015.09.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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