Promoting breastfeeding in Bolivia: do social networks add to the predictive value of traditional socioeconomic characteristics?

J Health Popul Nutr. 2006 Mar;24(1):71-80.


This study tested whether the prediction of health-related knowledge (correct breastfeeding practices in this case) could be improved by including information about the composition of an individual's personal network above and beyond that predicted by his/her socioeconomic or demographic characteristics. Few studies have tested the predictive value of social networks, especially for population-based studies, despite an increased use of social networks in the past few years in several fields of health research, especially in research relating to prevention of HIV/AIDS and design of HIV/AIDS programmes. Promotion of breastfeeding practices that enhance child survival is important in Bolivia because of high infant morbidity and mortality in the country. Data on a cross-sectional urban probability sample of 2,354 women and men aged 15-49 years were collected from seven urban areas in Bolivia. Model building and the log likelihood ratio criteria were used for assessing the significance of variables in a logistic model. Results showed that the network variables added significantly (p < 0.05 for knowledge of breastfeeding only with no other liquids and for knowledge of breastfeeding only with no solids p < 0.01) to the predictive power of the socioeconomic variables. These results may also hold for other health research areas, increasingly using social network analysis, such as that of HIV/AIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bolivia
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Class
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors