A row of students' legs walking down a hallway

Peer networks

The connections we have to other people are one of the most important parts of our daily lives. They help us feel emotionally supported; provide fun and laughter; and offer advice, practical help and sources of information.  On the other hand, difficult connections can badly affect our mood and wellbeing, and having few connections to other people can lead to isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.

In this workstream we study how the various types of connections can influence health.

The patterns of our connections are also important. Being part of one tight knit group who all know each other and have similar interests (like a large family group) can make your experience of life very different than being part of several groups with different interests (like being part of a family, a cycling club, friends from the pub, friends from church). 

Network analysis is a method for studying the patterns of connections between groups of people. The workstream is interested in using network analysis to study connections, how they influence health, and how to use social connections to improve health.


Current projects

The MINI project: Methods for Interventions on Networks to Improve health. This project involves a review of the literature on methods for conducting social network research studies, and holding a workshop with international experts in network analysis and health to develop guidance on how to use social network methods for health improvement research and interventions.

Net4Health collects data on social networks and health in schools. It studies changes in mental health over four decades by comparing the most recent sweep of schools health data with studies carried out by the unit in the 90s, 00s, and 10s.

ICAROS - Impact of Coronavirus and Associated Responses on people who use Substances. This collaboration with the Scottish Drugs Forum peer research team aims to study how the Coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption in people’s social lives and in their contact with services for substance dependence.

Loneliness and Mental health in Adolescent and Young Adult Populations. This ESRC funded project led by Emily Long will analyse three UK surveys to study the extent of loneliness and factors associated with it among young people, and how loneliness relates to poor mental health. 

SOCITS - A SOCial sITuational Systems approach to measuring and modelling influences on adolescent mental health. This project will create a new method for researchers, counsellors, teachers, and young people to do research about adolescent mental health and help to understand the reasons for things like loneliness and stress. 

PhD students

Sebastián Martinez – Estimating causal inference with data with an underlying network structure. The LKAS studentship involves developing new statistical methods for assessing processes of selection (choosing to connect to others) and influence (changing behaviour because of your connections to others) in networks, and applying them to public health questions.

Jelena Milicev – Using social network analysis to understand social support, wellbeing and academic progress of postgraduate researchers.

Joe Tay – The meaningful participation of people who use substances in health policy decision making. 

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