Contact patterns among high school students

J. Fournet, A. Barrat. PLoS ONE 9(9):e107878 (2014)

Face-to-face contacts between individuals contribute to shape social networks and play an important role in determining how infectious diseases can spread within a population. It is thus important to obtain accurate and reliable descriptions of human contact patterns occurring in various day-to-day life contexts. Recent technological advances and the development of wearable sensors able to sense proximity patterns have made it possible to gather data giving access to time-varying contact networks of individuals in specific environments.

Here we present and analyze two such data sets describing with high temporal resolution the contact patterns of students in a high school. We define contact matrices describing the contact patterns between students of different classes and show the importance of the class structure. We take advantage of the fact that the two data sets were collected in the same setting during several days in two successive years to perform a longitudinal analysis on two very different timescales. We show the high stability of the contact patterns across days and across years: the statistical distributions of numbers and durations of contacts are the same in different periods, and we observe a very high similarity of the contact matrices measured in different days or different years. The rate of change of the contacts of each individual from one day to the next is also similar in different years. We discuss the interest of the present analysis and data sets for various fields, including in social sciences in order to better understand and model human behavior and interactions in different contexts, and in epidemiology in order to inform models describing the spread of infectious diseases and design targeted containment strategies.



    author = {Fournet, , Julie AND Barrat, , Alain},
    journal = {PLoS ONE},
    publisher = {Public Library of Science},
    title = {Contact Patterns among High School Students},
    year = {2014},
    month = {09},
    volume = {9},
    url = {},
    pages = {e107878},
    number = {9},
    doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0107878}


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