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.

Rationale and Design of EMPOWER, a Pragmatic Randomized Trial of Automated Hovering in Patients With Congestive Heart Failure

Apr. 3, 2019

Shivan J. MehtaKevin G. VolppDavid A. Asch, Lee R. Goldberg, Louise B. Russell, Laurie A. Norton, Lauren G. Iannotte, Andrea B. Troxel

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Congestive heart failure is a major cause of morbidity, mortality, and cost. Disease management programs have shown promise but lack firm evidence of effectiveness and scalability. We describe the motivation, design, and planned analyses of EMPOWER (Electronic Monitoring of Patients Offers Ways to Enhance Recovery), a randomized clinical trial of an innovative intervention incorporating behavioral economic principles with remote monitoring technology embedded within a healthcare system.

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The Heterogeneous Effect of Affirmative Action on Performance

Feb. 1, 2019

Anat Bracha, Alma Cohen, Lynn Conell-Price

Abstract [form journal]

This paper experimentally investigates the effect of gender-based affirmative action (AA) on performance in the lab, focusing on a tournament environment. The tournament is based on GRE math questions commonly used in graduate school admission, and at which women are known to perform worse on average than men. We find heterogeneous effect of AA on female participants: AA lowers the performance of high-ability women and increases the performance of low-ability women. Our results are consistent with two possible mechanisms—

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Payment, Lying, and Research Eligibility

Jan. 31, 2019

Payment for research participation can raise ethical concerns and legal issues. But it can also raise scientific problems if it causes participants to lie about their eligibility or other things, like adverse events.

Financial Incentives for Achieving and Maintaining Viral Suppression Among HIV-positive Adults in Uganda: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Jan. 17, 2019

Harsha Thirumurthy, Alex Ndyabakira, Kara Marson, Devy Emperador, Moses Kamya, Diane Havlir, Dalsone Kwarisiima, Gabriel Chamie

Summary [from journal]

Background: Viral suppression among HIV-positive individuals is essential for protecting health and preventing HIV transmission. Financial incentives have shown promise in modifying various health behaviours in low-income countries but few studies have assessed whether they can improve HIV treatment outcomes. We aimed to determine the impact of time-limited financial incentives on viral suppression among HIV-positive adults in rural Uganda.

Methods: We did a randomised controlled trial in four rural Ugandan parishes....

Relationship Between Height and Outcomes Among Critically Ill Adults: A Cohort Study

Nov. 12, 2018

Emily A. Vail, David A. Harrison, Hannah Wunsch

Abstract [from journal]

Purpose: Many diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for critically ill adult patients are not performed according to patient size, but are standardized for an idealized 174-cm man (ideal body weight 70 kg). This study aims to determine whether critically ill patients with heights significantly different from a standardized patient have higher hospital mortality or greater resource utilization.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients admitted to 210 intensive care units (

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