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

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  • Julian C. Jamison
  • Dean Karlan
  • Pia Raffler

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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19107.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19107

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  1. Patricia N. Mechael, 2009. "The Case for mHealth in Developing Countries," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 103-118, January.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
  4. Jalan, Jyotsna & Somanathan, E., 2008. "The importance of being informed: Experimental evidence on demand for environmental quality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 14-28, August.
  5. Gallant, Melanie & Maticka-Tyndale, Eleanor, 2004. "School-based HIV prevention programmes for African youth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 58(7), pages 1337-1351, April.
  6. 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.
  7. 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, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 879-924, 08.
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