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Stigma, Misconception and Discrimination in the time of COVID-19
Initial registration date
July 24, 2020
July 24, 2020 10:32 AM EDT
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Department of Economic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
India has a history of segregation based on socioeconomic status, religion and caste. Despite significant progress nearly 70% of India’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Poor people are often blamed for many miseries. As per the 2011 Census, the country is home to more than 172 million Muslims or 14.2% of India’s population. Scheduled Caste (scheduled tribes, Dalits, and other backward class) communities exist across India and comprised 70% of the country's population. Although representing the large majority of the Indian population, these groups generally are under-represented in economic, social and political spheres. They often feel less safe, both socially and economically, than the rest of the population in times of crisis. Feeling unsafe can have negative impacts at both the social and the individual level, by further deteriorating social cohesion, resulting in poorer physical or mental health and well-being. Furthermore, certain minority groups (such as Dalits- the lowest caste group, and Muslims) are much more likely to experience discrimination. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, fear and misinformation about the virus may disproportionately impact the sense of personal and community safety of some groups. In fact, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been numerous media reports of an increase in anti-Muslim discriminatory behaviours in India.
This project aims to examine if targeted intervention via awareness campaigns and provision of accurate information about: (a) infection transmission and prevention mechanisms; and (b) the distribution of infection rates relative to the distribution of stigmatized groups across states can improve knowledge about Covid-19 and prevention mechanisms, increase the practice of physical distancing, reduce stigmatization and discrimination, and improve health outcomes. The findings from this project will shed light on policy responses that are useful for countering stigma and misinformation that aggravate the spread of disease and negative health outcomes as well as reducing discrimination and the associated adverse effects that vulnerable individuals suffer.
Islam, Asad, Debayan Pakrashi and Liang Choon Wang. 2020. "Stigma, Misconception and Discrimination in the time of COVID-19." AEA RCT Registry. July 24.
The proposed research will focus on 2,138 households residing in 40 localities across Kanpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh to examine if provision of information reduce stigma, and discrimination against other groups in the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We focus on five sets of primary outcomes. The five sets of primary outcomes are directly related to the intervention:
1. Knowledge about Coronavirus prevention and transmission
• Total scores on 12 questions about prevention methods and transmission mechanisms
2. Knowledge about the distribution of infection cases in six states to measure (incentivized) biased belief or prejudice against religious/vulnerable groups
• States with high and low shares of Muslim population
• States with high and low shares of lower-caste population
• States with high and low shares of rural poor population
3. Stigmatization of Covid-19
• Scores/indices based on five 5-point Likert scale questions about stigmatization of Covid-19 patients and their family members
• Scores/indices based on ten 5-point Likert scale questions about groups (nationality/caste/religion/poverty/occupation) that are responsible for the spread of Covid-19
4. Social/physical distancing
• Whether meeting with friends/relatives not in the same household in the past seven days
5. Health outcomes
• Self-reported physical health
• Self-reported mental health
• Symptoms of Covid-19
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The five sets of secondary outcomes include variables that could potentially be impacted due to our intervention:
• Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (Cohen et al., 1997) – 10 5-point Likert scale questions
2. Concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak
• Nine 5-point Likert scale questions about various concerns/anxiety related to the Covid-19 outbreak
3. Life satisfaction
4. Information need • Frequency of news
• Sources of news
5. Concerns/attitudes about the Covid-19 lockdown
• Five 5-point Likert scale questions about attitudes towards Covid-19 lockdown (lockdown policy, media reaction, governmental response, economic situation, health)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
This project will have two arms: while the treatment arm will receive information about COVID-19 the control group will receive no such intervention.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization of households (and respondents) into the two groups will be done by STATA on a computer.
Randomization will be done at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
2138 individuals from 40 locations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1081 individuals in the treatment and 1057 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Institutional Ethics Committee, IIT Kanpur
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number