Behavioral Economics / Behavior Change

The application of principles of economics and psychology to examine how individuals make choices in complex contexts--such as personal finances and health--and to improve these decisions and behaviors.

When Physicians Support Financial Penalties to Reduce Low-Value Care (and When They Don’t)

Dec. 16, 2017

Despite professional consensus, guidelines, and national campaigns, physicians continue to provide many low-value services. These services are defined as having little to no benefit, little benefit relative to their cost, or outsized potential harm compared to their benefit. Policies have tried to promote high-value care by altering physician compensation, but have had limited success in part because they are rarely based on theories of physician behavior.

Using Wearable Devices and Smartphones to Track Physical Activity: Initial Activation, Sustained Use, and Step Counts Across Sociodemographic Characteristics in a National Sample

Dec. 3, 2017

Mitesh S. Patel, Luca Foschini, Gregory W. Kurtzman, Jingsan Zhu, Wenli Wang, Charles A.L. Rareshide, Susan M. Zbikowski

In Annals of Internal Medicine, Mitesh Patel and colleagues describe rates of initial use of activity trackers, sustained use after 6 months, and step counts across different sociodemographic characteristics from a wellness program offered across the United States. Many large employers are using data collected from wearable devices and smartphones in workplace wellness programs; however, the characteristics of persons who use these devices are poorly understood.

Mean daily step count and sociodemographic characteristics between 2014 and 2015 were obtained from Humana for...

The First Digital Pill: Innovation or Invasion?

Nov. 20, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first digital pill that tracks if patients have taken their medication. Our experts weighed in on the potential benefits of the new technology, as well as the potential for abuse.

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Effect of a Game-Based Intervention Designed to Enhance Social Incentives to Increase Physical Activity Among Families: The BE FIT Randomized Clinical Trial

Nov. 8, 2017

Mitesh S. Patel, Emelia J. Benjamin, Kevin G. Volpp, Caroline S. Fox, ...

In JAMA Internal Medicine, Mitesh Patel and colleagues, including Kevin Volpp and Dylan Small, tested the effectiveness of a gamification intervention designed using insights from behavioral economics to increase physical activity. The researchers piloted the Behavioral Economics Framingham Incentive Trial (BE FIT), a randomized clinical trial with a 12-week intervention period and a 12-week follow-up period, among 200 adults (comprising 94 families) enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study.

All participants received daily feedback on whether or not they had achieved their...

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