Peers, Communities and Social Networks

Group of young people celebeating in dark room

The influence of peers, our social networks and communities is fundamental to the way we behave and think. This includes health behaviours. We examine how social networks and the resources drawn from social support influence health and behaviour. We focus on translating these findings into novel interventions, by identifying mechanisms through which social resources can be used effectively and sustainably to improve health and reduce health inequalities. 

Evidence has shown that socially isolated individuals are at greater risk of poor health outcomes, and those with fewer social ties are more likely to die younger. Our focus is to examine how of peers, friends, family members and work colleagues influence health, and to identify mechanisms of change to promote positive health – both of which are crucial to inform intervention development. Interventions targeting peers and social networks are particularly powerful as they have the potential to influence other people within these networks, thereby improving reach.

We also explore how to affect change and improve health at the community-level through community participative and asset-based approaches.

We are developing new methods of co-production for intervention development, and will ultimately work with communities to co-produce and evaluate interventions.