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[PNAS] A 680,000-Person Megastudy of Nudges to Encourage Vaccination in Pharmacies

Nina Mazar, Professor of Marketing, and her colleagues recently conducted a megastudy with 689,693 Walmart pharmacy customers to ascertain whether text-based reminders would encourage pharmacy vaccination and what kinds of messages worked best.

Nina Mazar

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Encouraging vaccination is a pressing policy problem. Nina Mazar, Professor of Marketing, and her colleagues recently conducted a megastudy with 689,693 Walmart pharmacy customers to ascertain whether text-based reminders would encourage pharmacy vaccination and what kinds of messages worked best. They tested 22 different text reminders using a variety of different behavioral science principles to nudge flu vaccination. Reminder texts increased vaccination rates by an average of 2.0 percentage points (6.8%) over a business-as-usual control condition. The most-effective messages reminded patients that a flu shot was waiting for them and delivered reminders on multiple days. The top-performing intervention included two texts 3 days apart and stated that a vaccine was “waiting for you.” Forecasters failed to anticipate that this would be the best-performing treatment, underscoring the value of testing.

Nina Mazar is Professor of Marketing at Boston University Questrom School of Business. With her focus on behavioral economics, Nina investigates how expectations, emotions, peers, and random cues in the environment affect how people think about products, money, investments, and morality, and their implications for welfare, development, and policy. Her research topics range from the dishonesty of honest people to irrational attraction to free products, the paradoxes of green behavior, tax compliance, organ and blood donation, and nudges to reduce credit card delinquency.