Promised and Lottery Airtime Incentives to Improve Interactive Voice Response Survey Participation Among Adults in Bangladesh and Uganda: Randomized Controlled Trial

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of medical Internet research








Africa; Bangladesh; LMIC; RCT; Uganda; airtime incentive; communicable disease; cooperation; cooperation rate; incentive; interactive voice response; interactive voice response survey; lottery; low income; middle income; mobile phone survey; non-communicable disease; participation; randomized controlled trial; response rate; surveillance; survey


BACKGROUND: Increased mobile phone penetration allows the interviewing of respondents using interactive voice response surveys in low- and middle-income countries. However, there has been little investigation of the best type of incentive to obtain data from a representative sample in these countries. OBJECTIVE: We assessed the effect of different airtime incentives options on cooperation and response rates of an interactive voice response survey in Bangladesh and Uganda. METHODS: The open-label randomized controlled trial had three arms: (1) no incentive (control), (2) promised airtime incentive of 50 Bangladeshi Taka (US $0.60; 1 BDT is approximately equivalent to US $0.012) or 5000 Ugandan Shilling (US $1.35; 1 UGX is approximately equivalent to US $0.00028), and (3) lottery incentive (500 BDT and 100,000 UGX), in which the odds of winning were 1:20. Fully automated random-digit dialing was used to sample eligible participants aged ≥18 years. The risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals for primary outcomes of response and cooperation rates were obtained using log-binomial regression. RESULTS: Between June 14 and July 14, 2017, a total of 546,746 phone calls were made in Bangladesh, with 1165 complete interviews being conducted. Between March 26 and April 22, 2017, a total of 178,572 phone calls were made in Uganda, with 1248 complete interviews being conducted. Cooperation rates were significantly higher for the promised incentive (Bangladesh: 39.3%; RR 1.38, 95% CI 1.24-1.55, P<.001; Uganda: 59.9%; RR 1.47, 95% CI 1.33-1.62, P<.001) and the lottery incentive arms (Bangladesh: 36.6%; RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.15-1.45, P<.001; Uganda: 54.6%; RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.21-1.48, P<.001) than those for the control arm (Bangladesh: 28.4%; Uganda: 40.9%). Similarly, response rates were significantly higher for the promised incentive (Bangladesh: 26.5%%; RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.14-1.39, P<.001; Uganda: 41.2%; RR 1.27, 95% CI 1.16-1.39, P<.001) and lottery incentive arms (Bangladesh: 24.5%%; RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.06-1.29, P=.002; Uganda: 37.9%%; RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.06-1.29, P=.001) than those for the control arm (Bangladesh: 21.0%; Uganda: 32.4%). CONCLUSIONS: Promised or lottery airtime incentives improved survey participation and facilitated a large sample within a short period in 2 countries. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03773146;


Global Health