Principal Investigator: Dr Mareike Schomerus (Busara Center for Behavioral Economics)
This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT), explored whether manipulating the source of public health information during the COVID-19 pandemic would shift the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of refugees and internally displaced persons.
This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT), explored whether manipulating the source of public health information during the COVID-19 pandemic would shift the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of refugees and internally displaced persons. While the research questions could not be answered, the study generated useful insights for researchers interested in similar questions.
Research on how information on COVID-19 spreads and how it influences people’s actions is urgent—but its utility goes beyond the initial crisis response. Unless we understand how anxieties and beliefs shape who is trusted, we cannot expect to address acute public health concerns or chronic social and political tension.
Public health information is usually intended to influence people’s behaviour, but this outcome may depend on whether audiences perceive the source as trustworthy. Manipulating the source should therefore affect outcomes.
But, as this pilot study in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) demonstrated, doing this is not easy. Attribution of attitude or behaviour changes to the source manipulation was not possible. Learning and recommendations for how source-labelled information can be delivered more effectively in humanitarian settings were documented for the benefit of those who might conduct similar evaluations in future. Researchers or humanitarian programme staff could use learning from this study to test their Theory of Change prior to conducting a similar evaluation.
In this blog the Busara team candidly reflect on the challenges they encountered studying misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. They share the lessons they learned and hope that this can help others.View
A Research Snapshot, summarising the findings and learning of the study published.View
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