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Feb. 28 | Physician Networks, Deviance, and Negligence in the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

  • 509 Knox Hall | Columbia University 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)
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WHO: Marissa King (Yale School of Management and Yale Sociology)

WHEN: Wednesday, February 28th, 2018, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Knox Hall 509, 606 W 122nd Street

Despite precipitous increases in prescription drug misuse and abuse, very little research has examined the role that physician characteristics and networks play in inappropriate prescribing. We argue that intentional overprescribing (deviance) and inadvertent overprescribing (negligence) arise from fundamentally different processes and are associated with different physician characteristics and network structures. We analyze overprescribing of benzodiazepines using a longitudinal patient-sharing network comprised of 500,472 physicians linked by 11,318,755 patients. Deviant prescribers sit in remarkably different network structures from negligent prescribers. Stochastic actor-oriented models show that social influence is a key mechanism driving both forms of inappropriate prescribing. Moreover, there are substantial asymmetries in whether social influence leads to behavioral escalation or cessation depending on whether overprescribing is negligent or deviant. This study advances the literature on network and wrongdoing by exploring two distinct forms of professional wrongdoing and their underlying mechanisms, network structures, and evolution. It also adds to a growing body of medical sociology research on the role of social influence in non-contagious medical epidemics. Our findings suggest that efforts to curtail the prescription drug abuse epidemic will need to address inadvertent and purposeful overprescribing using different network-based interventions.

Marissa King is an Assistant Professor in the Yale School of Management with a secondary appointment in Sociology. Professor King’s current research examines patterns of antidepressant, stimulant, and antipsychotic utilization. In general, her research analyzes the spatial and temporal dimensions of innovation and diffusion. To understand how large-scale phenomena arise from local behavior, she has studied cases ranging from the rise in autism prevalence during the past decade to the organizational foundations of the antislavery movement in the late 19th century. Of central interest is how regulatory environments shape diffusion processes. Professor King received her BA from Reed College and her PhD from Columbia University. Her research appears in journals such as American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, and Administrative Science Quarterly.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. All are welcome!

For inquires about Networks and Time, please contact coordinators Mark Hoffman ( or Eugene Grey (

Funding support for the Networks and Time Seminar Series is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.