Preprints with The Lancet is part of SSRN´s First Look, a place where journals identify content of interest prior to publication. Authors have opted in at submission to The Lancet family of journals to post their preprints on Preprints with The Lancet. The usual SSRN checks and a Lancet-specific check for appropriateness and transparency have been applied. Preprints available here are not Lancet publications or necessarily under review with a Lancet journal. These preprints are early stage research papers that have not been peer-reviewed. The findings should not be used for clinical or public health decision making and should not be presented to a lay audience without highlighting that they are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed. For more information on this collaboration, see the comments published in The Lancet about the trial period, and our decision to make this a permanent offering, or visit The Lancet´s FAQ page, and for any feedback please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Mis)Information and Anxiety: Evidence from a Randomized COVID-19 Information Campaign
28 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2021More...
Background: Dispelling misinformation during crises is of critical importance. But information can also induce distress, which can lead to poor decision-making. We ask whether delivering correct information hurts or improves mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Methods: We randomly assigned a sample of low-income migrant workers to receive Covid-19-related information through text messages, a pre-recorded audio message, or (live) phone calls.
Results: Misinformation was rampant at baseline. Phone calls led to the greatest increase in Covid-19-related knowledge, particularly among those without smartphones. They also reduced depression and anxiety substantially. The amount of information delivered explains gains in knowledge, but not improvements in mental health.
Conclusions: These results suggest that governments reconsider the dependence on text messages and pre-recorded audio given the mental health improvements created by live phone calls.
Trial Registration: The trial was pre-registered with the American Economic Association's Trial Registry (doi: 10.1257/rct.5947).
Funding: Good Business Lab funded the data collection and interventions.
Declaration of Interests: Adhvaryu and Nyshadham disclose that they are members of the Board of Directors and serve as Chief Development Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, respectively, at Good Business Lab. None of the authors has any financial interest in GBL.
Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by Good Business Lab's Ethics Committee in India (Identifier: GBL0520) and University of Michigan Human Subjects Research Committee in the United States (Office of Human Research Protections Registration Number: IRB00000246). We obtained informed consent from all study participants.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation