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Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Underdetection: A Field Experiment in India

Author

Listed:
  • Goldberg, Jessica

    () (University of Maryland)

  • Macis, Mario

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Chintagunta, Pradeep

    () (University of Chicago)

Abstract

Peer referrals are a common strategy for addressing asymmetric information in contexts such as the labor market. They could be especially valuable for increasing testing and treatment of infectious diseases, where peers may have advantages over health workers in both identifying new patients and providing them credible information, but they are rare in that context. In an experiment with 3,182 patients at 128 tuberculosis (TB) treatment centers in India, we find peers are indeed more effective than health workers in bringing in new suspects for testing, and low-cost incentives of about $US 3 per referral considerably increase the probability that current patients make referrals that result in the testing of new symptomatics and the identification of new TB cases. Peer outreach identifies new TB cases at 25%-35% of the cost of outreach by health workers and can be a valuable tool in combating infectious disease.

Suggested Citation

  • Goldberg, Jessica & Macis, Mario & Chintagunta, Pradeep, 2018. "Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Underdetection: A Field Experiment in India," IZA Discussion Papers 11942, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11942
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Balat, Jorge & Papageorge, Nicholas W. & Qayyum, Shaiza, 2017. "Positively Aware? Conflicting Expert Reviews and Demand for Medical Treatment," IZA Discussion Papers 10919, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Stephen V. Burks & Bo Cowgill & Mitchell Hoffman & Michael Housman, 2015. "The Value of Hiring through Employee Referrals," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 805-839.
    3. Niruparani Charles & Beena Thomas & Basilea Watson & Raja Sakthivel M. & Chandrasekeran V. & Fraser Wares, 2010. "Care Seeking Behavior of Chest Symptomatics: A Community Based Study Done in South India after the Implementation of the RNTCP," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 5(9), pages 1-6, September.
    4. Miller, Grant & Luo, Renfu & Zhang, Linxiu & Sylvia, Sean & Shi, Yaojiang & Foo, Patricia & Zhao, Qiran & Martorell, Reynaldo & Medina, Alexis & Rozelle, Scott, 2012. "Effectiveness of provider incentives for anaemia reduction in rural China: a cluster randomised trial," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-10.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tuberculosis; referrals; social networks; case finding; incentives; India; health;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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