Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Underdetection: A Field Experiment in India

60 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by Jessica Goldberg

Jessica Goldberg

University of Maryland, Department of Economics

Mario Macis

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Pradeep K. Chintagunta

University of Chicago

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Abstract

Peer referrals are a common strategy for addressing asymmetric information in contexts such as the labor market. They could be especially valuable for increasing testing and treatment of infectious diseases, where peers may have advantages over health workers in both identifying new patients and providing them credible information, but they are rare in that context. In an experiment with 3,182 patients at 128 tuberculosis (TB) treatment centers in India, we find peers are indeed more effective than health workers in bringing in new suspects for testing, and low-cost incentives of about $US 3 per referral considerably increase the probability that current patients make referrals that result in the testing of new symptomatics and the identification of new TB cases. Peer outreach identifies new TB cases at 25%-35% of the cost of outreach by health workers and can be a valuable tool in combating infectious disease.

Keywords: tuberculosis, referrals, social networks, case finding, incentives, India, health

JEL Classification: O1, I1

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, Jessica and Macis, Mario and Chintagunta, Pradeep K., Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Underdetection: A Field Experiment in India. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11942. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3301691

Jessica Goldberg (Contact Author)

University of Maryland, Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Mario Macis

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Pradeep K. Chintagunta

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-8015 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

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