Associate Director Keisha Bentley-Edwards Publishes Paper on Infectious Disease Transmission in a Small Community

Cook Center Associate Director of Research, Dr. Keisha Bentley-Edwards, has co-authored a research article in PLOS ONE titled, “Homophily and social mixing in a small community: Implications for infectious disease transmission“.

Dr. Bentley-Edwards and her co-authors explored how people in a small, diverse community interact and what this means for the spread of diseases like COVID-19. They focused on who people spend time with based on age, race, and gender. To do this, they talked to people who recently had COVID-19, asked them about their close contacts, and invited those contacts to join the study too.

They found that people tend to spend more time with others who share their race or ethnicity, more than you would expect based on the overall population makeup. Black or African-American participants, in particular, had interactions that spanned a wide range of ages, often because of family connections. In contrast, non-binary individuals tended to interact with people of similar ages.

This tendency for people to stick within their own groups could influence how diseases spread. Understanding these social patterns can help predict how an epidemic might spread and inform strategies like vaccination campaigns to protect those at higher risk.

Access the full journal article here.