Who interacts with whom? Social mixing insights from a rural population in India

Supriya Kumar, Mudita Gosain, Hanspria Sharma, Eric Swetts, Ritvik Amarchand, Rakesh Kumar, Kathryn E Lafond, Fatimah S Dawood, Seema Jain, Marc-Alain Widdowson, Jonathan M Read, Anand Krishnan

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Acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally, with most ALRI deaths occurring in children in developing countries. Computational models can be used to test the efficacy of respiratory infection prevention interventions, but require data on social mixing patterns, which are sparse in developing countries. We describe social mixing patterns among a rural community in northern India. During October 2015-February 2016, trained field workers conducted cross-sectional face-to-face standardized surveys in a convenience sample of 330 households in Faridabad District, Haryana State, India. Respondents were asked about the number, duration, and setting of social interactions during the previous 24 hours. Responses were compared by age and gender. Among the 3083 residents who were approached, 2943 (96%) participated, of whom 51% were male and the median age was 22 years (interquartile range (IQR) 9-37). Respondents reported contact (defined as having had a face-to-face conversation within 3 feet, which may or may not have included physical contact) with a median of 17 (IQR 12-25) people during the preceding 24 hours. Median total contact time per person was 36 person-hours (IQR 26-52). Female older children and adults had significantly fewer contacts than males of similar age (Kruskal-Wallis χ2 = 226.59, p<0.001), but spent a longer duration in contact with young children (Kruskal-Wallis χ2 = 27.26, p<0.001), suggesting a potentially complex pattern of differential risk of infection between genders. After controlling for household size and day of the week, respondent age was significantly associated with number and duration of contacts. These findings can be used to model the impact of interventions to reduce lower respiratory tract infections in India.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0209039
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India/epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Influenza, Human/epidemiology
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Respiratory Tract Infections/epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Young Adult


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