Background of the study

Social networks play a central role in the sharing of information, formation of beliefs, and access to support as well as in the subsequent shaping of behaviors that impact outcomes such as health status over the lifespan. As a form of social capital, social networks map the value of social interactions and exchanges to individual and societal well-being. Studying social structural phenomena has important implications for individuals throughout the life course.  Furthermore, such research may have particular significance for people in low-resource settings because social networks (as a form of social capital) may be the critical means of community functioning, providing support (affective, monetary, informational, etc.) to individuals and families in the absence of developed institutions.
Relatively few studies have examined the importance of individuals’ embeddedness in a whole social network where all social ties within a given community are measured, particularly in developing countries. In addition to interest in how macro social structure may affect individual outcomes, exploring collateral health effects and considering how ties form and break will provide useful information for designing health and development interventions. 

This project will analyze the sociocentric network of adults in one parish in rural Uganda, which will show how social connections in a network relate to a variety of health and economic outcomes. This work will serve to lay a foundation that we expect to build upon with further waves of network data, revealing the dynamic nature of networks over time and differential effects of social networks across age groups and gender over the life course.

- Study objectives

This project will be the first to combine three key goals: 1) examining network effects for an entire parish, 2) exploring health and economic outcomes as related to networks in a low-resource setting, and 3) assessing how changes in network characteristics affect outcomes and how these changes transform connections between people over the life course. The first steps towards these goals will be the purpose of this proposal: designing network instruments, collecting data, creating a first-wave database, and producing evidence to support follow-up research.

- Target population

This project will target all adults (18 years and older) who reside in one of eight cells within one parish about 20km from Mbarara town. 

Information on relationships, role-sharing, marital quality, hiv, stigma, mental health, economics, demographics, intimate partner violence, alcohol use, child nutrition, and bednet use will be collected from all adults who consent to participate in the study.

- Project duration etc.