Social Networks on Preventive Healthcare: New approaches to Early Detection of Chronic Disease

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This study proposes research to address two questions:  

  1. What are the causal pathways or intermediate steps that link low health literacy to poor health status and high utilisation of expensive services such as hospitalisation and emergency care?
  2. What impact does social support network have on the relationships between health literacy and health service utilisation?  


Professor Liaquat Hossain

Research Location

Civil Engineering

Program Type



The program will provide a systematic review of empirical studies of health literacy to indicate the limitations of current literature and to highlight the importance of the proposed research agenda on social networks on preventive healthcare.  In particular, it is noted that the individualistic premise of current literature in which individuals are treated as isolated and passive actors. Thus, low health literacy is considered simply as an individual trait independent of support and resources in an individual's social environment. To remedy this, this research will take into account social support network that people can draw on when problems arise due to their health literacy limitations.  Examination of the proposed agenda will make two main contributions:  

  • First, we will gain a better understanding of the causal effects of health literacy and identify missing links in the delivery of care for patients with low health literacy.
  • Second, if social support network buffers the adverse effects of low health literacy, more effective interventions can be designed to address differences in individuals’ social support network system in addition to individual differences in reading and comprehension. More targeted and more cost-efficient efforts could also be taken to identify and reach those who not only have low health literacy but also lack the resources and support to bridge the unmet literacy demands of their health conditions.

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chronic disease, detection, healthcare, prevention, health literacy, health service, health, health status

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 808

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