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Contributors:
  1. Ben Delphine Guhin
Affiliated institutions: The Policy Lab at Brown University

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Category: Project

Description: To estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, the R.I. Department of Health and Brown University partnered to recruit a random sample of residents for PCR and serological testing. Between May 7th and 13th, 2020, letters were mailed to 5,000 randomly selected households, asking them to be tested at one of any four Stop & Shop locations. The 5,000 households were randomly assigned to receive one of two letters. Letter A was the default version, with a design familiar to anyone who has received a standard government mailer. Letter B included all of the same content of Letter A, but it was redesigned using principles from behavioral science and user-centered design. For example, Letter B is simpler in layout and it includes maps, a suggested deadline, and an optional sign-up to receive an SMS reminder. The letter redesigned based on behavioral science principles (Letter B) meaningfully increased show-ups for COVID-19 testing: 10.7% of Letter B recipients showed for testing, compared to only 7.5% of those receiving Letter A.

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