Backfire Effect of Salient Information on Vaccine Take-up: Evidence From Scared-Straight Intervention in Rural Northern Nigeria

Ryoko Sato , Harvard School of Public Health
Yoshito Takasaki, University of Tokyo

This paper evaluates the effect of salient information on the tetanus vaccine take-up using the field experiment among women of childbearing age in rural northern Nigeria. We use scared-straight flipcharts, which show the graphical information to prime painful tetanus symptoms of muscle spasm, to induce fear to increase the risk perceptions of tetanus and thus to lead to the increased level of the vaccine take-up. We find that the scared-straight intervention backfired among women without previous experiences of the tetanus vaccination; it decreased the take-up of the tetanus vaccination, while it increased their perceived risk of disease and fear level. We discuss the potential mechanisms for this backfire. Overall, we do not recommend this tactic to improve the vaccination rate among our target population.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2