HealthcarePapers 12(4) December 2012 : 31-36.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2013.23221

A "Nudge" at All? The Jury Is Still Out on Financial Health Incentives

Marc Mitchell and Guy Faulkner


A comprehensive, multi-level approach to curb chronic disease–related costs in Canada is needed. One target for intervention is the economic domain. The emergence of user financial incentives (UFI) in public health policy as well as their broad implementation in corporate settings has stimulated a growing but limited body of research in this area. The authors' position is that the jury is still out on the question of their effectiveness in sustaining long-term health behaviour change, given the nature of the UFI that have been designed and delivered to date – that is, UFI with limited theoretical and contextual consideration. It is their contention that manipulating UFI design features (there are seven core features with a range of attributes) to exploit contextual (e.g., personal income) and theoretical (e.g., self-efficacy) factors may optimize UFI effectiveness over the long term. Although UFI are not the solution, they might very well be a part.



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