When Do Reminders Work? Memory Constraints and Medical Adherence

67 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2022

See all articles by Kai Barron

Kai Barron

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Mette Damgaard

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics

Christina Annette Gravert

University of Copenhagen

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2022

Abstract

An extensive literature shows that reminders can successfully change behavior. Yet, there exists substantial unexplained heterogeneity in their effectiveness, both: (i) across studies, and (ii) across individuals within a particular study. This paper investigates when and why re-minders work. We develop a theoretical model that highlights three key mechanisms through which reminders may operate. To test the predictions of the model, we run a nationwide field experiment on medical adherence with over 4000 pregnant women in South Africa and document several key results. First, we find an extremely strong baseline demand for reminders. This demand increases after exposure to reminders, suggesting that individuals learn how valuable they are for freeing up memory resources. Second, stated adherence is increased by pure reminders and reminders containing a moral suasion component, but interestingly, reminders containing health information reduce adherence in our setting. Using a structural model, we show that heterogeneity in memory costs (or, equivalently, annoyance costs) is crucial for explaining the observed behavior.

Keywords: nudging, reminders, memory, attention, medication adherence, structural model

JEL Classification: D040, D910, C930, I120

Suggested Citation

Barron, Kai and Damgaard, Mette and Gravert, Christina Annette, When Do Reminders Work? Memory Constraints and Medical Adherence (2022). CESifo Working Paper No. 9996, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4246404 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4246404

Kai Barron (Contact Author)

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/kaibarron/

Mette Damgaard

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics ( email )

Fuglesangs Alle 4
Aarhus, 8210
Denmark

Christina Annette Gravert

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, DK-1165
Denmark

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