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Mixed Method Evaluation of a Passive mHealth Sexual Information Testing Service in Uganda

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Author Info

  • Julian Jamison

    ()
    (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, D.C.)

  • Dean Karlan

    ()
    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Pia Raffler

    ()
    (Department of Political Science, Yale University)

Abstract

We evaluate the impact of a health information intervention implemented through mobile phones, using a clustered randomized control trial augmented by qualitative interviews. The intervention aimed to improve sexual health knowledge and shift individuals towards safer sexual behavior by providing reliable information about sexual health. The novel technology designed by Google and Grameen Technology Center provided automated searches of an advice database on topics requested by users via SMS. It was offered by MTN Uganda at no cost to users. Quantitative survey results allow us to reject the hypothesis that improving access to information would increase knowledge and shift behavior to less risky sexual activities. In fact, we find that the service led to an increase in promiscuity, and no shift in perception of norms. Qualitative focus groups discussions support the findings of the quantitative survey results. We conclude by discussing a potential mechanism explaining the counterintuitive findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 1025.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1025

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Keywords: information technology for development; mhealth; ICT4D; sexual health;

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  1. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
  2. Alberto Chong & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2013. "Effectiveness and Spillovers of Online Sex Education: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Colombian Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 18776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gallant, Melanie & Maticka-Tyndale, Eleanor, 2004. "School-based HIV prevention programmes for African youth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(7), pages 1337-1351, April.
  4. Robert Jensen, 2007. "The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 879-924, 08.
  5. Patricia N. Mechael, 2009. "The Case for mHealth in Developing Countries," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 103-118, January.
  6. Jalan, Jyotsna & Somanathan, E., 2008. "The importance of being informed: Experimental evidence on demand for environmental quality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 14-28, August.
  7. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2011. "List Randomization for Sensitive Behavior: An Application for Measuring Use of Loan Proceeds," NBER Working Papers 17475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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