Indirect interactions influence contact network structure and diffusion dynamics

Md Shahzamal*, Raja Jurdak, Bernard Mans, Frank de Hoog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Interaction patterns at the individual level influence the behaviour of diffusion over contact networks. Most of the current diffusion models only consider direct interactions, capable of transferring infectious items among individuals, to build transmission networks of diffusion. However, delayed indirect interactions, where a susceptible individual interacts with infectious items after the infected individual has left the interaction space, can also cause transmission events. We define a diffusion model called the same place different time transmission (SPDT)-based diffusion that considers transmission links for these indirect interactions. Our SPDT model changes the network dynamics where the connectivity among individuals varies with the decay rates of link infectivity. We investigate SPDT diffusion behaviours by simulating airborne disease spreading on data-driven contact networks. The SPDT model significantly increases diffusion dynamics with a high rate of disease transmission. By making the underlying connectivity denser and stronger due to the inclusion of indirect transmissions, SPDT models are more realistic than same place same time transmission (SPST)-based models for the study of various airborne disease outbreaks. Importantly, we also find that the diffusion dynamics including indirect links are not reproducible by the current SPST models based on direct links, even if both SPDT and SPST networks assume the same underlying connectivity. This is because the transmission dynamics of indirect links are different from those of direct links. These outcomes highlight the importance of the indirect links for predicting outbreaks of airborne diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190845
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • contact network
  • diffusion process
  • epidemiology
  • influenza
  • mathematical model


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