State engagement with religious leaders for effective COVID19 crisis response

Last registered on July 21, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

State engagement with religious leaders for effective COVID19 crisis response
Initial registration date
April 20, 2020
Last updated
July 21, 2020, 5:50 AM EDT



Primary Investigator

Duke University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The goal of this study is to test whether outreach with religious leaders can enhance state effectiveness at dealing with the COVID-19 public health crisis. Many Islamic countries including Pakistan have cancelled or severely restricted congregational prayer to combat the spread of the disease. However, many mosques in Pakistan continue to hold congregational prayer. In a few cases, this has led to clashes between the state and mosques (e.g. in which police assigned to enforce the rules on Friday prayer have had violent confrontations with large gatherings of congregants). With Ramadan beginning on April 23 bringing higher typical attendance as well as the traditional practice of extended evening congregational prayers with a complete recitation of the Quran over the month (Tarawih), compliance with social distancing protocols will be an even greater challenge. There is also a need for accurate information spread on the disease and its mitigation, given widespread myths about the disease. Imams can serve as an initial point of contact trusted by the community to help in rapid dissemination of accurate information. We have a database of contact information for several thousand imams. We will conduct information treatment calls with a randomized sub-sample of imams. As of the date of this pre-registration, we have conducted pilot information treatment calls with approximately 200 imams to date. Resources permitting, we intend to scale this up with a larger sample of imams in the coming weeks.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Vyborny, Kate. 2020. "State engagement with religious leaders for effective COVID19 crisis response." AEA RCT Registry. July 21.
Experimental Details


Treatment groups receive an information call including health information about COVID-19, information on the health rationale and government decrees regarding congregational prayer, and information on authoritative religious proclamations related to the argument to suspend congregational prayers (fatwas and hadis).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
For Scale Up Wave I, we have selected the following outcome variables based on the evolving situation on the COVID-19 lockdown and the pilot data.

In the first wave of scaled-up data collection (July 2020) we will examine the following outcomes:
* Self-reported intent to practice mosque level COVID spread mitigation measures:
Keeping sermon short
Cleaning mosque more frequently or more thoroughly than usual
Providing soap / encouraging people to wash with soap
Remove prayer mats and pray on floor / encourage people to bring their own prayer mat and stay on it
Discourage elderly / sick from attending
Asking participants to stay at a distance from each other / Asking participants not to shake hands or hug
Making announcements about health advice in the sermon / over the loudspeaker in the area
Asking congregants to perform wuzu / ablution at home
Asking / requiring all congregants to wear mask in the mosque

* Advice to a "mystery shopper" on:
Wearing masks during congregational prayer
Ablution at home instead of at the mosque
Attendance of the caller's elderly father at prayer

Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Based on pilot data and further feedback on the design, for Scale Up Wave I, we are randomizing imams at the individual level into (1) a secular information treatment; (2) a secular + religious information treatment; (3) control; (4) "super control" with no baseline questionnaire.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization using Stata
Randomization Unit
For Scale Up Wave I, we are randomizing imams at the individual level into treatment.

Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
In Scale Up Wave I, we intend to reach approximately 1,000 respondents; the final sample size for this wave will depend on the successful call rates before Eid holidays.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
In Scale Up Wave I we intend to reach approximately 1,000 respondents, divided equally into:
T1 (secular information)
T2 (secular + religious information)
Super control (no baseline)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Duke Campus IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials