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

Abu Siddique (), Tabassum Rahman (), Debayan Pakrashi, Asad Islam () and Firoz Ahmed
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Tabassum Rahman: School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle

Munich Papers in Political Economy from TUM School of Governance at the Technical University of Munich

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.

Keywords: COVID-19; health communications; awareness campaign; compliance; RCT (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 64 pages
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-hea
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