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Raising COVID-19 Awareness in Rural Communities: A Randomized Experiment in Bangladesh and India

Author

Listed:
  • Abu Siddique

    (Economics Group, Technical University of Munich)

  • Tabassum Rahman

    (School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle)

  • Debayan Pakrashi

    (Department of Economic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)

  • Asad Islam

    (Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) and Department of Economics, Monash University)

  • Firoz Ahmed

    (Economics Discipline, Khulna University)

Abstract

Effective health information campaigns play an important role in raising public awareness and encouraging preventive and health-promoting behavior. We study the extent to which awareness campaigns promoting simple COVID-19 precautionary measures foster health-preserving behavior among people in rural communities. Two weeks after the lockdowns in March 2020, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in Bangladesh and India targeting people living in remote rural areas to disseminate validated COVID-19 information over the phone. We find that relative to the information provided via text messages, discussing various precautions over the phone can significantly improve rural people's awareness and induce compliance with COVID-19 public health guidelines. We also find compliance to be substantially higher among women, which is partially due to their concerns about the health of household members, and increased awareness. The compliance also persists after three months of the campaign. These findings help shed light on the importance of health communication methods during public health crises for remote rural communities in developing countries, where rumors and myths about diseases are often ubiquitous, and disseminating validated health information remains a challenge.

Suggested Citation

  • Abu Siddique & Tabassum Rahman & Debayan Pakrashi & Asad Islam & Firoz Ahmed, 2020. "Raising COVID-19 Awareness in Rural Communities: A Randomized Experiment in Bangladesh and India," Munich Papers in Political Economy 09, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:aiw:wpaper:09
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    Cited by:

    1. Bahety, Girija & Bauhoff, Sebastian & Patel, Dev & Potter, James, 2021. "Texts don’t nudge: An adaptive trial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    2. Islam, Asad & Pakrashi, Debayan & Vlassopoulos, Michael & Wang, Liang Choon, 2021. "Stigma and misconceptions in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic: A field experiment in India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 278(C).
    3. Sawan Rathi & Anindya S. Chakrabarti & Chirantan Chatterjee & Aparna Hegde, 2022. "Pandemics and technology engagement: New evidence from m‐Health intervention during COVID‐19 in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 2184-2217, November.

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    Keywords

    COVID-19; health communications; awareness campaign; compliance; RCT;
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