Estimating household contact matrices structure from easily collectable metadata

PLoS One. 2024 Mar 14;19(3):e0296810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0296810. eCollection 2024.


Contact matrices are a commonly adopted data representation, used to develop compartmental models for epidemic spreading, accounting for the contact heterogeneities across age groups. Their estimation, however, is generally time and effort consuming and model-driven strategies to quantify the contacts are often needed. In this article we focus on household contact matrices, describing the contacts among the members of a family and develop a parametric model to describe them. This model combines demographic and easily quantifiable survey-based data and is tested on high resolution proximity data collected in two sites in South Africa. Given its simplicity and interpretability, we expect our method to be easily applied to other contexts as well and we identify relevant questions that need to be addressed during the data collection procedure.

MeSH terms

  • Contact Tracing / methods
  • Epidemics*
  • Epidemiological Models
  • Metadata*
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [co-operative agreement number: 1U01IP001048]. LD and CCa acknowledge support from the Lagrange Project of ISI Foundation funded by CRT Foundation, from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101016233 (PERISCOPE) and from Fondation Botnar. LG, MT and LO acknowledge support from the Lagrange Project of ISI Foundation funded by CRT Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.