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Dissemination Centre

Key Messages

• Overall, reviews of evidence suggest that financial incentives are effective for promoting a range of behaviours, but there are limitations

• Effects seemed to be most sustainable for smoking cessation, and to last for several months after the incentive ended

• For other behaviours, the effectiveness of incentives appears likely to drop off over time and particularly once the incentive stops

• There is a lack of clear evidence on which type of incentive is most likely to be effective in which circumstances, and also at what level incentives need to be set

• Incentives evoke strong reactions, positive and negative, so they need to be used with care

• Some people (patients and healthcare professionals) may consider them unfair, or as rewarding people for not doing something they should

• However, it seems to be quite widely accepted that incentives might work for some people, in some circumstances.


"But if you try a reward scheme, and even if it seems quite unpalatable and it works, then the justification is right there."

Anonymous,  HTA study 10/31/02

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