Department of Biostatistics
Statistical Methods in Epidemiology Working Group

2015 - 2016

Organizer: Dr. Bernard Rosner

Schedule: Fridays, 2:00-3:30 p.m.; will meet once every 3-4 weeks
SPH2, Room 426 (unless otherwise notified)

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Seminar Description
This year, this seminar will be devoted to work on statistical methods used in epidemiologic work. In addition to statistical methods of general epidemiologic use, a number of sessions will be devoted to topics in genetic epidemiology, family studies and clustered data issues. In addition to speakers from Harvard, a limited number of distinguished speakers from outside of Harvard will be invited to participate. Presentations of work by interested faculty and students will be solicited.

October 23 (2:30 - 4:00 pm)

Weihua An, S.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Statistics, Indiana University - Bloomington

"Health Surveillance through Social Networks"
ABSTRACT: We propose a network method to monitor health behaviors and point out the general conditions for it to work effectively. The method helps to identify effective informants for monitoring future health behaviors and to triangulate self-reports of sensitive health behaviors. We demonstrate the method by studying the smoking behaviors of over 4000 middle school students in China. Using students' observations of their schoolmates smoking in the past 30 days, we construct smoking detection networks and examine the patterns of smoking detection through exponential random graph models. We find that smokers, optimistic students, and popular students make better informants than their counterparts. We also find that using three to four (or the 3rd quartile of) positive peer reports can uncover a good number of under-reported smokers while not producing excessive false positives. In short, the method we proposed may be used to improve future survey designs and data quality with a low cost.

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Last Update: September 18, 2015