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Changing norms and behaviors through entertainment TV: Impact Evaluation of the MTV series Shuga
Last registered on November 11, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Changing norms and behaviors through entertainment TV: Impact Evaluation of the MTV series Shuga
Initial registration date
September 16, 2014
Last updated
November 11, 2019 11:03 AM EST
Primary Investigator
Universita Bocconi
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
World Bank
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
TV plays an important role in introducing ideas in societies where literacy is relatively low and social norms discourage novel ideas, especially related to stigmatized behaviors. Educational entertainment (“edutainment”) is a communication strategy that works through mass entertainment media with the aim of promoting a better context for behavior change than the delivery of information alone.

This evaluation uses an experimental design to study the impact of MTV series Shuga, a TV drama targeted at youth that aims to change social norms and behavior related to high-risk sexual behavior and gender-based violence. The impact evaluation will be among the first to experimentally estimate the impact of a product similar to commercial TV series (as opposed to an educational movie). It will be the first time that two crucial aspects of edutainment programs are evaluated: i) their “spillover” effect on people who did not watch the drama but may have heard about it from friends and ii) their effect through viewers’ perceptions of the beliefs and values of their peers after watching the drama. For instance, young men may only be willing to treat their partners with respect when they think that this will not make them look weak in the eyes of other men.

The evaluation will employ a clustered randomized trial design where communities will be randomly assigned to treatment 1 (Shuga screenings only), treatment 2 (Shuga screenings plus information about attitudes of peers) and control groups. The Friends treatment is cross-cutting across the treatment arms and will be randomized at the individual level.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit, Eliana La Ferrara and Victor Orozco. 2019. "Changing norms and behaviors through entertainment TV: Impact Evaluation of the MTV series Shuga." AEA RCT Registry. November 11. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.509-4.1.
Former Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit et al. 2019. "Changing norms and behaviors through entertainment TV: Impact Evaluation of the MTV series Shuga." AEA RCT Registry. November 11. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/509/history/56736.
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Experimental Details
MTV International has produced and distributed the edutainment show Shuga, a TV drama started in 2009, designed to raise awareness and change attitudes and behavior related to HIV/AIDS and reproductive health among young people. Shuga presents young Africans from various socioeconomic strata balancing bright futures with the negative consequences of high-risk behaviors. The TV drama has been broadcasted in over 70 countries, mainly in SSA. In the summer of 2013, MTV filmed the third season in Nigeria. This third season introduces messages about gender based violence and attitudes towards women. The third season has eight 22-minute episodes.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Knowledge regarding HIV & GBV: Knowledge on ways to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, knowledge on testing and ARVs
- Expectations and attitudes regarding HIV & GBV, Perceptions of the frequency of certain behaviors and attitudes towards acceptable social norms
- Behavior regarding HIV & GBV: Engaged in unprotected sex, number and concurrency of sexual partners, HIV testing, STI-status (Biomarkers), Frequency of psychological and physical violence by partner

- Spillovers: Spillovers to friends who did not watch Shuga
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The intervention will take place in screening centers, e.g.. schools or community centers. Using GPS coordinates of screening centers, we define communities around each of these centres as households located within a 2 mile radius, ensuring that there are buffer zones between communities to minimize the risk of contamination across study groups. These communities will constitute our unit of randomization.

Treatment communities will constitute 2/3 of the sample, control communities 1/3 of the sample. In treatment communities individuals will be shown the Shuga TV drama in two screenings of four 20 minutes episodes each. Control communities will be shown a placebo movie that will lack messages of sexual risky behavior and last for a similar amount of time.
Treatment communities will be randomly divided into two arms: one arm will only show Shuga (Treatment 1); the second arm will show Shuga plus some reinforcing messages on other people's attitudes (Treatment 2).

To half of the treated individuals (both in Treatments 1 and 2) randomly selected, we will offer the option to bring up to two people to the screening. This treatment is randomized at the individual level and is cross-cutting across the other two treatments. We denote this as the “Friends treatment”.

In all locations (treatment and control) survey participants who are NOT in the “Friends” treatment will be asked to list up to 3 friends whom they regularly talk to and who live in the community . Let us denote the people they mention as “Network Members”. A random sample of 15 of these Network Members will be administered the baseline and follow-up survey in each location.
Experimental Design Details
Details on Treatment 1 and 2:

In treatment communities (Treatment 1 + Treatment 2), individuals will be shown the Shuga TV drama in two screenings of four 20 minutes episodes each. Control communities will be shown a placebo movie that will lack messages of sexual risky behavior and last for a similar amount of time. The basic treatment (Treatment 1) and control will not involve any other activity after the screening, to make the experience more comparable to that of a viewer who watches TV at home.

In half of the treatment communities (Treatment 2), the Shuga screenings will be followed by video-clips containing information on beliefs and values of peers in other communities after watching the Shuga drama. These video-clips will include interviews of youth condemning negative behaviors and praising positive behaviors after watching the Shuga drama, together with smart graphs containing statistics on other young people's opinions on salient issues. The intent is to raise awareness about how common certain beliefs and attitudes are among other participants, and how willing other participants seem to change them.
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Communities will be randomised to either treatment 1, treatment 2 or control (one third each).
Half of the individuals in the treatment groups will randomly be allocated to the Friends group, ie. they will be offered the opportunity to bring 2 friends to the screenings.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
80 communities
Sample size: planned number of observations
6300 young people that were at least 18 and at most 25 at their last birthday
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
27 communities - Shuga only
27 communities - Shuga + announcement video
26 communities - Control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Based on budgetary restrictions, we calculated we can afford to include 80 clusters (urban locations) in the sample. These were split into ​​2 treatment groups of 27 clusters each and 1 control group of 26 clusters. Using sumstats ​ (mean, standard deviations and intracluster correlations)​ from DHS 2008 for ​the project states ​​, we selected several measures of​:​ ​​ ​​- prevalence of STDs ​: used condom during last intercourse, has ever been tested for AIDs, has had an STD in past 12 months and - domestic violence: spouse pushed, shook or threw something at you, spouse has slapped you, spouse threatened with knife, gun or weapon ​ We set power at 80% and the significance level at 5%, and performed two-sided tests. Assuming different cluster sizes and an equal division of males and females within each cluster, we computed the minimum detectable effect (MDE) of (1) being treated (any treatment) and (2) of being in a specific treatment group. Taking into consideration budget limitations and the need to maximize MDE, we concluded that the optimal cluster size would be 63. This results in an MDE of 0.2 standard deviations for all selected measures (0.15 for some), and allows us to examine heterogeneous effects by gender.
IRB Name
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
National Health Research Ethics Committee of Nigeria (NHREC)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)