A combination of intervention of free mask distribution, re-modelling by community leaders and public officials, preaching the importance of wearing masks can help improve compliance in a community about covid appropriate behaviours, found a study conducted at 600 villages in Bangladesh.
The working paper series under the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research in 10 week-long study covering 3,41, 830 adults found that compliance to wearing mask increased by 29 per cent points due to intervention at villages, assuming three members in a family. The study covered 64,937 families in the intervention group and another 64,183 in the control group.
The study conducted in association with Standford University, Yale School of Management and Innovation for Poverty Action aimed at assessing which multiple interventions would increase proper wearing of masks, if mask promotion unintentionally creates moral hazards and if wearing masks can decrease people practicing social distancing.
To find out on the above-mentioned objectives, several strategies were used like free mask distribution, religious leaders promoting mask usage, distribution of masks ate public places like markets and at mosques etc. Pilot projects in two districts found that free mask distribution is not sufficient to increase mask-wearing, but advocacy groups also need to ensure that there is periodic monitoring in public places to improve their compliance.
When examined on a larger randomised cluster it was established that mask distribution, active mask promotion and role modeling combined reaped better results than only mask distribution and role-modelling.
However, certain strategies did not reap positive results like intervention through text messages, monetary or non-monetary incentives, public commitment through signature model, or police accompanying mask promoters. The fact that police presence proving to be ineffectual; in increasing mask-wearing and instead periodic reminders being more successful suggests that the operative mechanism feels no threat from formal legal sanctions but instead works om shame and people’s aversion to light informal social sanctions.
The researchers, however, have cautioned that the findings should be analyses and used with caution as the behavioural response of a community or a cluster can be context-dependent. The study also notes that the intervention strategies that proved to be effective can be deployed in a similar manner in South Asia and other world regions.