Can both good and bad health be socially contagious?
Both good health, like weight loss, and bad health, like talk of suicide, can spread from one person to another via social networks. In this video, HealthMaker James Fowler, PhD, professor of medical genetics and political science at UCSD, explains.
Unfortunately, there are online sites where teenagers can talk about this. And there's some evidence that, that also can spread from one person to another.
Both good and bad health are going to be socially contagious, unfortunately. And, you know, one of the things that we see, for example,
suicide, um, can spread from one person to another. In fact, the CDC has written special regulations
for the media in order to try to keep suicide from spreading. They try to avoid talking about it as a suicide
because it glamorizes it. And people who are sort of thinking about doing it themselves, especially people who might have known the individual who killed themselves, are more likely to kill themselves.
You see evidence of in some cases a dozen people or more actually committing suicide in these suicide cascades.
Cutting behavior, so there are teenagers who will cut themselves. And unfortunately, there are online sites where
teenagers can talk about this. And there's some evidence that, that also can spread from one person to another. And so all the good things that we
might do, getting to a normal weight, exercising, taking our medications, getting vaccinated, all those good things.
We're actively studying, how do we intervene in these networks? How do we find just exactly the right people to try to change their behavior in the network
so that it creates these cascades, changing hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of people. But we're also aware of the fact that at the same thing
can work in reverse. And so while we're also trying to change crucial people's behavior, we might also be trying
to do prevention on crucial people to try to keep them from changing for the worse and to keep that cascade from happening in the first place.
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