Diffusion of treatment in social networks and mass drug administration

Goylette F. Chami*, Andreas A. Kontoleon, Erwin Bulte, Alan Fenwick, Narcis B. Kabatereine, Edridah M. Tukahebwa, David W. Dunne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Information, behaviors, and technologies spread when people interact. Understanding these interactions is critical for achieving the greatest diffusion of public interventions. Yet, little is known about the performance of starting points (seed nodes) for diffusion. We track routine mass drug administration-the large-scale distribution of deworming drugs-in Uganda. We observe friendship networks, socioeconomic factors, and treatment delivery outcomes for 16,357 individuals in 3491 households of 17 rural villages. Each village has two community medicine distributors (CMDs), who are the seed nodes and responsible for administering treatments. Here, we show that CMDs with tightly knit (clustered) friendship connections achieve the greatest reach and speed of treatment coverage. Importantly, we demonstrate that clustering predicts diffusion through social networks when spreading relies on contact with seed nodes while centrality is unrelated to diffusion. Clustering should be considered when selecting seed nodes for large-scale treatment campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1929
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


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