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Principal Investigator: Dr Mareike Schomerus (Busara Center for Behavioral Economics)

Research Snapshot: Misinformation and Covid-19-related health measures in displacement settings

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.

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WHAT DID THE STUDY SET OUT TO ACHIEVE?

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.

Dr Mareike Schomerus

Principal Investigator

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.

What were the key findings?

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.

 

Related Resources

Research Snapshot COVID-19

Research Snapshot: Misinformation and Covid-19-related health measures in displacement settings

Report COVID-19

Tackling health misinformation in humanitarian settings using behavioral science

Report COVID-19

A complicated relationship: bringing behavioral science into the fight against health misinformation in a pandemic in displacement settings. Busara Groundwork Report

Latest Updates

Blog: Lessons from a failed research project

26 Sept 2022

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
2022Sept

Research snapshot published

30 May 2023

A Research Snapshot, summarising the findings and learning of the study published.

View
2023May

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