Applying behavioral insights to increase rural and remote internships: Results from two Randomized Controlled Trials

A. M. Jeanette Deetlefs*, Jenny Chalmers, Karen Tindall, Cindy Wiryakusuma-McLeod, Sue Bennett, Iain Hay, Jacqueline Humphries, Michelle J. Eady, Lynette Cronin, Karl Rudd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Worldwide, organizations struggle to attract professionals in rural and remote (R&R) areas. Undertaking a placement in an R&R area as part of a program of study has been shown to increase the likelihood of graduates taking up positions in locations that are difficult to staff. We applied behavioral insights to develop low cost, scalable interventions to encourage pre-service teachers to undertake internships in R&R areas of Australia. We tested the effectiveness of removing behavioral barriers when researching R&R areas and adding social triggers to make the R&R opportunity relevant. Our first randomized controlled trial (RCT) tested the use of personalized communication from an influential messenger to highlight the benefits of an R&R internship. Our second RCT tested the offer of social support by allowing pre-service teachers to complete the R&R internship with a “buddy”, rather than alone. Our behavioral approaches trebled R&R internship applications in RCT 1. These findings provide insights for cost-effectively increasing R&R internships in teaching, healthcare or social work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101664
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support for this research from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the NSW Department of Education. Special thanks to anonymous referees, Di Wasson and Cheryl Best from the NSW Department of Education and Alex King, Danielle Kent and Kim Louw from the NSW Government's Behavioural Insights Unit. The authors would also like to thank the staff of the Professional Experience office at each of the three universities, in particular Sue Heald, James O'Kelly, Petronella D'Souza, and Rachelle Tom.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • randomized controlled trial
  • nudges
  • professional experience
  • internships
  • rural and remote


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