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Research Associate Hans-Peter Kohler co-authors a paper along with Alberto Ciancio, Fabrice Kampfen, and Rebecca Thornton

Abstract: Providing personal health information allows individuals to take action to improve their health. If treatment is not available, however, being informed about having a life-threatening disease could lead to feelings of despair or fatalistic behaviors resulting in negative health outcomes. We document this possibility utilizing an experiment in Malawi that randomized incentives to learn HIV testing results in a context where anti-retroviral treatment (ART) was not yet available. Six years after the experiment, receiving an HIV+ diagnosis reduced survival rates by 23% points and this effect persists after 15 years. We show that HIV+ persons who learned they were HIV+ engaged in more risky health behaviors, have greater anxiety and a higher discount rate. We do not find any effects of receiving an HIV - diagnosis on survival.

Ciancio, Alberto, Fabrice Kämpfen, Hans-Peter Kohler, and Rebecca Thornton. 2024. “Surviving Bad News: Health Information without Treatment Options.” University of Pennsylvania Population Center Working Paper (PSC/PARC).