Priming religiosity in healthcare workers

Last registered on March 26, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Priming religiosity in healthcare workers
Initial registration date
March 26, 2021

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
March 26, 2021, 10:49 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

University of Milan

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Verona

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
To evaluate the effectiveness of coping mechanisms on reducing stress when dealing with traumatic events lived in the past, we run a survey with a religious priming to Italian healthcare workers. Isolating the effects of religiosity on health presents notable empirical challenges: in some context like the US, religious people are generally wealthier, enjoy higher levels of education, and are in more stable marriages. All these characteristics are expected to positively affect individual (objective or self-assessed) physical and mental health. To overcome these empirical challenges, we ran an experiment through an online survey that was administered to healthcare workers in Italy between June 15th and August 31st, 2020, while the pressure of the first wave of the pandemic was fading away. The experiment directly manipulates the salience of individual religiosity through implicit priming. Hence, our original survey included two versions of the same 50-item questionnaire, one with a religious priming (i.e., unscrambling statements including ``sacred'' words) and one with standard neutral questions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of these two versions through a random redirect tool compatible with the Google Forms platform, which was used to design the survey.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bertoli, Paola and Veronica Grembi. 2021. "Priming religiosity in healthcare workers." AEA RCT Registry. March 26.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Self assessed mental distress, which is a discrete variable ranging from 0 (i.e., no severe mental distress) to 4 (i.e., severe mental distress). This index is the linear sum of the 4 dummies Depression, Anxiety, Fear, and Sleeping problems, which are considered the main dimensions of poor mental health. For each of these dimensions, the corresponding dummy tells us if the respondent experienced that specific feeling (e.g., feeling depressed) very often or always, between the beginning of the COVID-19 first wave and June 15th, 2020.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Concerns is a secondary outcome, and it is a discrete variable ranging from 0 (i.e., no severe concerns) to 7 (i.e., severe concerns), summing 7 dummies: Stress in the workplace, Personal health, Relatives health, Couple problems, Nobody to talk, Financial problems, and Family problems. For each type of concern, a related dummy captures whether that specific situation was a cause of very frequent or constant concern for the respondent from the beginning of the pandemic to June 15th.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The survey included two versions of the same questionnaire. One version of the survey incorporated religious priming, whereas the other version had neutral priming. During the first week of the survey -- between June 15th and June 22nd -- we ran a pilot with about a 2% share (i.e., 5,000 contacts, randomly selected) of the full sample to check whether the invitation email and the length and structure of the survey were sufficiently comprehensible and effective for collecting valid responses. No particular concerns arose during the pilot; therefore, starting from June 22nd, the survey was emailed to the full sample.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
By computer, using random redirect tool compatible with the Google Forms platform
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
20 regions
Sample size: planned number of observations
At least 2,000 physicians and 4,000 nurses
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
At least 1,000 physicians and 2,000 nurses
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
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