Penn Nursing Professor Part of Team Establishing First-of-its-Kind HIV ‘Nudge Unit’ in South Africa
Associate Professor Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, who is also one of the Associate Directors of Penn’s Center for Health Incentives & Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), is part of the team that recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a nudge unit focused on HIV prevention in South Africa.
With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Witwatersrand’s Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office (HE²RO), and CHIBE are launching Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health. (“Indlela” means “the way” or “the path” in Zulu.) Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, Associate Director of CHIBE, and Buttenheim, will co-lead this three-year initiative with their colleagues at HE²RO.
In the past decade, a number of governments and health systems globally have used behavioral science and rapid-testing of interventions to improve the efficiency of programs by forming “nudge units” to help develop low-cost interventions that have successfully resulted in behavior change and improve health care delivery. The Indlela Unit is founded on the premise that there is plenty of potential for behavioral interventions to make a difference for HIV prevention in South Africa.
“I’ve seen nudge units be spectacularly successful at addressing behavioral barriers in multiple policy domains in high-income countries,” said Buttenheim. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to partner with researchers and HIV service providers in South Africa in leveraging the same behavioral science strategies and toolkits to improve testing and treatment outcomes.”