Belief Systems and Health Behaviors in Guinea Bissau

Project Info

Principal Investigators

Alexander Coutts (Nova SBE)
Teresa Molina (Nova SBE)
Pedro Vicente (Nova SBE)

Field Coordination

Bruno Spellanzon (Nova SBE)


Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)



About this Project

While recent decades have seen remarkable progress in improved global health outcomes, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains a region where maternal and newborn diseases remain the primary causes of death [World Bank (2013)]. Guinea-Bissau is no exception, with nearly 70 percent of the population living below the poverty line. In addition to a high rate of maternal mortality, Guinea-Bissau suffers from a high rate (25%) of chronic malnutrition.

This project investigates how much of low demand for preventive health care can be explained by lack of awareness or knowledge and to what extent can knowledge and beliefs on health be shifted. Our study will take place in two regions within Guinea Bissau, Biombo and Cacheu. We will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) which aims to provide reliable health information to effectively change behavior. A key focus of this research will be on studying and understanding health related beliefs, as an important first step to understanding how to best develop policies to change behavior.

A primary component of our study is providing information on the benefits of preventative care products and services that are available but underutilized. A key innovation of this intervention is that we will study how the identity of the provider of information matters for how individuals perceive this information, and subsequently use it when making health decisions. This will be combined with a detailed survey on individuals’ beliefs about health outcomes.

This project will be the first large-scale study to put together a randomized information intervention on health behaviors and direct measurement of beliefs in Guinea Bissau.

Contributing to SDGs: