Inspiring Women: Planning, randomization design and data collection

In the last steps, Gaia introduced you to the Inspiring Women project as an example of a randomized control trial. Here we will look at how the project was carried out. Understanding how development projects are planned, implemented, and evaluated is key to ensuring successful and sustainable change.

How were the videos developed?

The casting of the inspiring women featured in the videos was conducted by Trinity College’s partner institution, the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC). The women were selected among HIV patients that attended their clinics. Filming took place in October 2014 by Irish director Tom Burke. The videos all followed the same structure:

  1. Background information
  2. Description of how the business was started
  3. Discussion of the challenges faced
  4. Targets for the future
  5. Final inspirational message.

Although the plot is similar across the four videos, each of them highlights different aspects of the challenges and goals of the four inspiring women. The final message is similar across the four videos and it is meant to encourage viewers that anything was possible for them too.

How were the participants selected?

A random sample of patients from clinics run by the JCRC were selected. What we mean by random sampling is that each individual is chosen entirely by chance and every individual has an equal chance of being included. Random sampling was performed in four steps.

  1. Four sub-regions were randomly selected (Central, Mid-Northern, Mid-Western, South-Western) out of the six Ugandan sub-regions
  2. Within each sub-region, 4 clinics, among those run by JCRC, were randomly selected
  3. Participants were randomly selected among the HIV female patients attending each clinic
  4. Clinics within each sub-region were randomly assigned to the control or the treatment group

How was the research carried out?

At the start of the research (known as the baseline), the fieldwork team set appointments for a three-day visit in each clinic. Participants in the project were selected among the HIV female patients attending the clinic on the days of the fieldwork visit. The fieldwork team was introduced to the patients waiting for their medical appointments by the medical staff, while a description of the project was provided to potential participants.

  • Once the participants agreed to take part in the research, enumerators in the clinic held face-to-face interviews with them.
  • They collected information on demographics, health, agricultural production, business activities, savings and credit.
  • The baseline took place between April and September 2014 and an average of 132 patients were recruited in each clinic.
  • Appointments with the fieldwork team for the subsequent intervention/interview rounds were made to coincide with the participants’ routine medical appointments.

Participants in the control group were invited to attend the health clinics for their medical appointments and for the interviews, which took place at the same time as the treatment interventions. No videos were shown to this control group.

The videos were screened to the treatment group in 8 treatment HIV clinics, distributed across the four sub-regions. A different three-minute video was shown for each round of intervention, each featuring an inspiring woman. A group discussion took place during and after the video screening. Participants were divided in groups, as they came along for their visit at the health clinic. For each group, the video was shown a first time, with one of the research team interrupting the screening at set moments, to recap the main highlights of the woman’s story. After the first screening, the video was shown one more time to the same group of participants, but without any interruption. A group discussion followed the second screening of the video.

intervention

  • The first intervention round took place between October and December 2014 and each clinic was visited for two days. Reminders were sent to participants in both control and treatment groups to attend their clinic for their routine medical appointments. The first video was screened in the treatment clinics to the treatment groups, followed by a short face-to-face interview. Women in the control group were also interviewed but were not shown a video.
  • The second intervention round took place between January and March 2015, during which the second video was screened.
  • The mid-line evaluation took place at the same time as the third intervention round, and a longer questionnaire was administered by the enumerators in both treatment and control groups.
  • The fourth and last intervention round took place between July and August 2015, while the end-line evaluation was administered between September and December 2015.

What was the impact?

The results of this research show that exposure to role model videos had a positive effect on the treatment group. They had a higher probability of starting a business, and of gaining income from crops, livestock and enterprise one year after the start of the intervention. The women in the treatment group were found to have better health, and their children were less likely to be absent from school. They also saved more money over time. Our findings show that providing vulnerable women with role models that empower them to start their own enterprise activities may be very effective in improving welfare outcomes.

This is an example of how we can clearly identify the impact of a program using a randomized control trial.


Thinking about the Inspiring Women project:

  • Can you think of other applications where role models could be effective in inspiring behavioural change?

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This article is from the free online course:

Achieving Sustainable Development

Trinity College Dublin