"Fighting Covid using call centers”

Information provision over the phone saves lives – A randomized controlled trial to contain COVID-19 in rural Bangladesh at the pandemic’s onset

September 02, 2022

The FAZ reports on the research findings of our behavioral economists Sebastian O. Schneider and Matthias Sutter (with their co-authors Shyamal Chowdhury and Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch).

The team called about 3000 households via local call centers in the midst of the first Covid wave in 150 Bangladeshi villages – and informed them about Covid and its symptoms, illustrated ways to contain it, such as physical distancing and hygiene measures, in particular in case of symptoms, and illustrated the importance of these measures. Comparable villages in Bangladesh that were not part of the study served as a control group (since it is impossible to call all villages at the same time).

Half of the households called were offered two to three Bangladeshi daily wages as a “compensation” for following the rules.

Especially after three months, the data show astonishing effects: According to the study, only half as many people died in the targeted households as in the control group. The second remarkable finding: money as an incentive had "no significant" effect, according to the study.

The core of the study is transferable to Germany, Schneider says: "We see the results as a blueprint for further pandemics or outbreaks." Addressing people directly and getting to the point has been shown to save lives, he adds.


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