Information provision over the phone saves lives

A randomized controlled trial to contain COVID-19 in rural Bangladesh at the pandemic’s onset


Lack of information about COVID-19 and its spread may have contributed to excess mortality at the pandemic’s onset. In April and May 2020, we implemented a randomized controlled trial with more than 3,000 households in 150 Bangladeshi villages. Our one-to-one information campaign via phone stressed the importance of social distancing and hygiene measures and illustrated the exponential spread of COVID-19. Measuring its impact both 2 weeks and 2.5 months after our intervention showed improved knowledge about COVID-19, significant behavioral changes, and better health outcomes. Notably, our intervention reduces the share of households reporting a deceased member by about 50%.

Discussion Papers of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, 2022/9