208021 Social Networks as Systems: Network Structure, Diffusion of Social Influence, and Cigarette Smoking Among High School Aged Youth

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 11:06 AM

Cynthia M. Lakon, PhD , Population Health and Disease Prevention, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA
Cigarette smoking among high school aged youth in the United States is a serious public health problem, as 23% percent of these youth smoke. Cigarette smoking among this population is likely shaped by processes in the social context including the constraining influence of social network structure and social influence. Employing a Systems Science approach, the social context of adolescent smoking may be conceptualized as a series of component parts that comprise an emergent system of social networks through which social influences flow and shape smoking behavior among youth. The present study focuses on two types of youths' social networks that are likely key for understanding youth smoking behavior: 1) proximal egocentric friendship networks and 2) the broader social context of their sociometric school networks. Using Social Network Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling, this study examines how social influences diffuse through the structures of a system of intersecting adolescent social networks in relation to cigarette smoking. The study study utilizes two waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which was conducted with a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12. Implications for smoking related policy for high school aged youth will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss how social networks can be thought of as emergent systems made up of smaller components. 2. Describe how social influence flows through a network system.

Keywords: Tobacco, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a degree in Health Behavior Health Education from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health, did a post doctoral fellowship with a premiere social network scholar, and have been studying social networks for the last nine years. My dissertation was on the social networks of injection drug using youth. Since then, I have published peer reviewed articles in the area of social networks and youth.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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