Measuring social and sexual contact patterns in Canada to improve the control of infectious diseases

Mathematical modeling has become a key tool to support policy planning and decision making on (1) new vaccine programs, (2) optimization of programs, and (3) rapid response to outbreaks. These models provide evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, which are the main criteria in program recommendations from leading national and international immunization committees.

Assumptions about how individuals contact each other and transmit infection are at the heart of models of infectious disease. Hence, a valid representation of contacts between individuals is essential for accurate model predictions. Unfortunately, population-based empirical data on contact patterns do not exist in Canada.

The goal of the project is to improve the evidence base for immunization decisions in Canada and outbreak preparedness through improved mathematical models of infectious diseases, by measuring the social and sexual contact patterns of Canadians and making the data available to researchers across the Country. First, we will measure contact patterns by conducting the first pan-Canadian survey of social contacts (e.g., conversation, touching, kissing), sexual behavior, and mixing patterns (e.g., contacts between groups characterized by sociodemographic characteristics). Second, we will use the contact data to conduct mathematical modeling studies to inform policy decisions for HPV (human papillomavirus) and measles immunization programs. These initial modeling projects were chosen to capitalize on synergies with other CIRN projects, but the contact patterns will be made widely available to be used for a broad range of models.


Team Members:

  • Marc Brisson, Project Lead, Université Laval
  • David Fisman, University of Toronto
  • Erin Kirwin, Alberta Health
  • Larry Svenson, Alberta Health
  • Gina Ogilvie, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
  • Salah Mahmud, University of Manitoba
  • Shelly Bolotin, Public Health Ontario
  • Natasha Crowcroft, Public health Ontario
  • Shelley Deeks, Public Health Ontario
  • Jane Heffernan, York University
  • Beate Sander, Public Health Ontario
  • Jordan Tustin, Ryerson University
  • Jianhong Wu, York University
  • Michel Alary, Université Laval
  • Gaston De Serres, Université Laval
  • Eve Dubé, Université Laval
  • Philippe Lemieux-Mellouki, Université Laval
  • Chantal Sauvageau, Université Laval
  • Nathaniel Osgood, University of Saskatchewan
  • Philippe Beutels, University of Anterwerpen
  • Niel Hens, University of Hasselt
  • Marie Claude Boily, Imperial College London