Social Networks and Preventive Health Behavior during COVID-19 Pandemic

Last registered on March 30, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Social Networks and Preventive Health Behavior during COVID-19 Pandemic
Initial registration date
November 26, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 30, 2020, 11:36 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
March 30, 2021, 12:08 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Michigan State University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Columbia University
PI Affiliation
Michigan State University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study how social networks may shape adoption of preventive health behavior. Our multiple surveys - an in-person household census and subsequent phone surveys - cover the period before and during COVID-19 pandemic from all 16,058 households in 135 villages/sub-villages in Bangladesh. We collect detailed information on local social network, COVID-19 preventive behavior and knowledge, demography, and other socio-economic variables. In the experimental part of this study, we provide preventive health messages to randomly selected 20% households in our sample in May-June 2020. These health messages target specific preventive behaviors, following households' self-reported adoption of best practices (e.g., using mask, hand washing, social distancing). About five months later while the pandemic is still ongoing, we collect information on adoption of preventive behavior and COVID-19 awareness from households.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Barnwal, Prabhat, Alexander van Geen and Yiqian Wang. 2021. "Social Networks and Preventive Health Behavior during COVID-19 Pandemic." AEA RCT Registry. March 30.
Sponsors & Partners


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Experimental Details


In the experimental part of this study, households assigned to the treatment group receive message(s) encouraging them to adopt specific preventive behavior(s) relevant to COVID-19 in May-June 2020. These messages are sent in a targeted manner to address only particular preventive behavior(s) (or knowledge on COVID-19 transmission), when a household's initial response to certain questions indicates lack of adoption of that particular preventive behavior (or knowledge on COVID-19 transmission). For example, households, who report that COVID-19 is not transmitted by touching surfaces later receive a message that intended to correct this misunderstanding. These messages are sent over the phone by our call center to a random subset of about 20% households in our sample. The remaining 80% households do not receive these tailored messages.

Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We have two set of primary outcomes. Households' self-reported (1) adoption of COVID-19 preventive behavior, and (2) awareness of COVID-19 and mode(s) of COVID-19 transmission.

Specifically, we collect data on following set of outcomes in the second-round survey.
(1). Adoption of COVID-19 preventive behavior:
Practice of (i) Wearing masks, (ii) Covering sneeze, (iii) Washing hands with soap when leaving home, (iv) Social distancing - Number of days practiced social distancing in the past week, (v) Avoidance of social gathering and prayer at a religious place (mosque/temple): Number of days attended social gathering in the past week, Attend Jummah/Weekly prayer in the past week (Yes/No), Number of days attended prayer in the past week.

(2). Awareness of COVID-19 and mode(s) of transmission:
(i) Awareness of COVID-19,
Knowledge of potential mode(s) of transmission through which COVID-19 can spread -- (ii) Asymptomatic carriers and (iii) Surfaces.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
COVID-19 positive cases (Self-reported).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
To study the impact of a series of customized preventive information against COVID-19 on adoption of preventive behavior and relevant knowledge, we conduct two rounds of phone call surveys to 16,058 households from 135 villages/sub-villages in Bangladesh. After the baseline survey, households assigned to the treatment group receive message(s) encouraging them to adopt specific preventive behavior(s) relevant to COVID-19. We combine this experimental variation in information provision with data on households' social network to study the role within-village social networks play in adoption of preventive behavior.

In the first-round survey conducted between May 8th, 2020 and June 7th, 2020, we randomly selected 20% of households (3,216 households out of 16,058 households) to participate in a long version survey, in which we asked the households about their knowledge of COVID-10, their adoption of preventive measures against COVID-19, and the economic impact of COVID-19 on the household. In the preventive measure section, we recorded households' self-reported practice of preventive measures such as whether they wear masks when leaving home, how often they are able to keep social distancing, how often they wash their hands with soap, and etc. When a household was not able to answer or answered incorrectly, the enumerator delivered a customized message to explain why that particular protection will benefit the household. For example, when a household said they are not washing hands with soap, the enumerator delivered a message that highlights the importance of using soap by discussing the possibility of contracting the virus after touching a contaminated surface.

In the ongoing second-round survey starting from October 27th, 2020, five months after the intervention, we re-approached these 20% of households to record their adoptions of preventive measures against COVID-19, COVID-19 knowledges, and the economic impact of COVID-19. We randomly selected and recorded another 10% of the remaining 80% of households (1281 households) and recorded their responses to these questions. The second group of households did not receive customized information in the first round.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The randomization was conducted in the office with a computer program.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
16,058 households in 135 villages/paras(sub-village units)
Sample size: planned number of observations
16,058 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment: 3,216 households (20%)
Control: 12, 842 households. 10% of these households (i.e., 1,280 households) are surveyed in round 2 survey.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Columbia University IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Michigan State University
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