Mitesh Patel Exercise Incentive Study Gets Big Media Play
A University of Pennsylvania study that found that financial loss incentive strategies drove the highest level of exercise in an employee wellness program has received worldwide press pickup.
A research team led by Perelman School of Medicine Assistant Professor Mitesh Patel tested three different strategies designed to motivate overweight employees to walk 7,000 steps a day:
• A $1.40 cash incentive for each day they achieved that goal.
• Participation in a daily lottery averaging out to the same $1.40/day if they met their goal
• A loss incentive that advanced them $42 monthly in an online account but took away $1.40 for each day they failed to meet their goal.
Ten percent more
The loss incentive group members achieved their daily goals 45% of the time. The other two categories hit 7,000 daily steps only 35% of the time and a control group with no incentives made their goal only 30% of the time.
Headlines used by news website editors to describe their stories about the study ranged from New York Magazine's "People Will Exercise If You Bribe Them To Exercise" to the London Daily Mail's "What's The Key To Tackling Obesity? FINE Fat People If They Don't Exercise, Says Experts."
Among the media outlets that published major articles on the study immediately after its release were The New York Times, Reuters, US News & World Report, Bloomberg, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, Time, Forbes, Fortune, New York Magazine, Glamour, WebMD, Yahoo Finance, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Medpage Today, Medical Daily, American Journal of Managed Care, Safety+Health, Daily Mail (London), MedIndia (Chennai, formerly Madras, India), Canberra Times (Australia), the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) and the Australian Financial Review (Australia).
Originally published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study was one of a series underway at Penn's Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE). Located within the Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), much of the work at CHIBE is focused on finding more effective methods for getting employees to quit smoking, exercise more, adopt healthier eating habits and take their prescribed medications.
Patel, MD, MBA, is an LDI Senior Fellow and a member of the affiliated faculty at CHIBE. His research team on this project also included LDI Senior Fellows David Asch, MD, MBA; Roy Rosin, MBA; Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD; and Dylan Small, PhD.