Director of CESS Ray Duch publishes life-saving research

04 Dec 23

Director of CESS Ray Duch publishes life-saving research

Professor Raymond Duch, Director of the Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS), has completed an innovative study offering a new strategy to combat poor vaccination rates in Africa. The findings have recently been published in Nature Magazine.

Ray, in collaboration with Professor Philip Clarke, Director of the Health Economics Research Centre, devised a trial in Ghana that used four different methods to encourage nearly 6,000 participants to have a COVID-19 vaccination. The methods were a video about the importance of these vaccinations, a high cash incentive (around 10 USD), a low cash incentive (3 USD) and a placebo (an unrelated video message). Interestingly, the results showed that the lower cash incentive had the greatest effect on vaccination uptake – something Ray acknowledges needs further research to establish why the high cash incentive was not more effective. The information video had no effect at all on participants’ intention to get a vaccination.

Unlike most studies into vaccine uptake, Ray’s also measured whether participants actually received a vaccination or just reported that they had, making the results far more reliable and impactful. Ray and his team estimate that the findings may be applicable to around half the rural population of the entire African continent. If the findings can be put into practice, this has the potential to save many lives.

Ray says: ‘Our study demonstrates that small cash incentives may improve the success of health intervention programmes in Africa, such as vaccination uptake. Further research is needed to fully understand why smaller incentives had a greater effect than higher cash incentives, and how the behaviour of people living in rural Ghana compares with people living in other rural areas of African countries. This may help us to learn more about the factors linked to health-related behaviours and help us to improve many more long-term health outcomes across Africa.’

Read more on Oxford Population Health’s website.