Source effects in COVID-19 communication: Does the level of Government matter?

Last registered on April 08, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Source effects in COVID-19 communication: Does the level of Government matter?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005694
Initial registration date
April 08, 2020
Last updated
April 08, 2020, 11:53 AM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Georgetown University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Seattle University
PI Affiliation
Syracuse University
PI Affiliation
American University

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2020-03-31
End date
2020-04-09
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of different COVID-19 communication strategies on people’s willingness to engage in public health behaviors like hand-washing or social distancing. While there is some initial evidence about message content, little is known about whether the source of a message itself affects the credibility people assign to the message content, and their willingness to practice hand hygiene and social distancing. We further argue that the source credibility of public health risk communication can be judged among two dimensions, expertise and relevance. In this study, we focus on varying the perceived relevance of the source of a hypothetical, but realistic, social media post.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Favero, Nathan et al. 2020. "Source effects in COVID-19 communication: Does the level of Government matter?." AEA RCT Registry. April 08. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5694-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We conduct an online survey among 1,500 respondents (using the Qualtrics survey panel). In the survey, we present survey respondents with a hypothetical Facebook post that emphasizes the severity of COVID-19 infections, and encourages them to help slow the spread through hand washing and social distancing. We experimentally vary the source of the Facebook post, while holding the message content itself constant.

Intervention Start Date
2020-03-31
Intervention End Date
2020-04-09

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- 1st and 2nd order willingness to practice social distancing.
- 1st and 2nd order willingness to practice hand-washing.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1st and 2nd order willingness to practice social distancing:
- After reading this message, how likely is it that you will stay at home completely and avoid all social contact for at least 2 weeks, even if you don’t feel sick?
- How likely is it that someone else who read this post would stay at home completely and avoid all social contacts for at least 2 weeks, even if they don’t feel sick?

1st and 2nd order willingness to practice hand-washing:
- After reading this message, how likely is it that you will wash your hands whenever you enter work or come home for at least 2 weeks, even if you don’t feel sick?
- How likely is it that someone else who read this post this would, for the next 2 weeks, always wash their hands whenever they enter work or come home, even if they don’t feel sick?

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- 1st and 2nd order willingness to share a social media post promoting social distancing/ hand washing.
- A set of 3 items measuring respondents' beliefs about the competence, relevance, and trustworthiness of the entity sharing the social media post.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1st and 2nd order willingness to share a social media post promoting social distancing/ hand washing:
- How likely is it that you would share this post to your own social media?
- How likely is it that someone else who read this post would share this post to their own social media?

The 3 items measuring respondents' beliefs about the competence, relevance, and trustworthiness of the entity sharing the social media post are as follows:
- Think about the organization that posted this message, [organization named here]. How competent do you think they are?
- Think about the organization that posted this message, [organization named here]. How relevant is their content to you?
- Think about the organization that posted this message, [organization named here]. How trustworthy do you think they are?

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We implement a between subjects design in which respondents are exposed to a hypothetical Facebook post. We randomly vary the source of the post, resulting in the following experimental conditions:

Arm #1: No explicit source;
Arm #2: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Arm #3: [Respondent's State] Department of Public Health
Arm #4: [Respondent's County] Department of Public Health
Arm #5: [Respondent's County] Department of Public Health in partnership with the CDC

Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Simple randomization done by a computer (within Qualtrics)
Randomization Unit
Survey respondents
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
n/a
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,500 respondents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
MDE: 3.7 percentage points
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institutional Review Board of Seattle University
IRB Approval Date
2020-03-31
IRB Approval Number
N/A

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials