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DEMM SEMINAR: Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Under-detection in India: A Field Experiment (Jessica Goldberg, Mario Macis, Pradeep Chintagunta)

SPEAKER: Mario Macis (Johns Hopkins University)

ABSTRACT: Peer referrals are a common strategy for addressing asymmetric information in contexts such as job search. They could be especially valuable for increasing testing and treatment of infectious diseases, where peers may have advantages over health workers in both identifying new patients and providing them credible information, but they are rare in that context. In an experiment with 3,182 patients of 128 tuberculosis (TB) treatment centers in India, we find that peers are indeed more effective than health workers in bringing in new suspects for testing, and that low-cost incentives of about $3.00 per referral considerably increase the probability that current patients make referrals. Peer outreach identifies new TB cases at 25-35% of the cost of outreach by health workers, and can be a valuable tool in combatting infectious diseases.

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