Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Unhealthy behaviour

Unhealthy behaviour is contagious: an invitation to exploit models for infectious diseases

D. J. BLOKa1 c1, P. VAN EMPELENa1a2, F. J. VAN LENTHEa1, J. H. RICHARDUSa1 and S. J. DE VLASa1

a1 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a2 Research Group Life Style, TNO, Leiden, The Netherlands

SUMMARY

We argue that the spread of unhealthy behaviour shows marked similarities with infectious diseases. It is therefore interesting and challenging to use infectious disease methodologies for studying the spread and control of unhealthy behaviour. This would be a great addition to current methods, because it allows taking into account the dynamics of individual interactions and the social environment at large. In particular, the application of individual-based modelling holds great promise to address some major public health questions.

(Received August 24 2011)

(Revised November 10 2011)

(Accepted April 16 2012)

(Online publication May 17 2012)

Key words

  • Infectious disease epidemiology;
  • modelling;
  • public health

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Mr D. J. Blok, Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands. (Email: d.j.blok.1@erasmusmc.nl)

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