- Published in Outcomes and Insights in Health Management -

Incentives for Health and Wellness Programs: Strategies, Evidence and Best Practice

Author(s): Elizabeth Rula, PhD and Russ Sacks

picThe population suffering from chronic health conditions is substantial and growing. This trend is increasingly affecting the quality of life and productivity of individuals with poor health and taking a toll on the economy due to the resultant increases in healthcare costs. The increasing economic burden of healthcare is driving efforts to prevent the onset of chronic disease and to manage existing conditions with the purpose of averting exacerbations and adverse events. Incentives are commonly used to increase participation in health and wellness programs that are aimed at maintaining and improving health and motivating individuals to make lifestyle and behavioral changes toward this goal. Research on incentives and disincentives indicates that both can be effective at improving participation and behavior change, but these tools alone are not sufficient to improve long-term outcomes. Therefore, incentives must be coupled with well-designed health and wellness programs and effective communication to have the greatest impact. This white paper reviews various types of incentives, evidence for the effectiveness of different incentive designs, and key elements that should be considered in designing incentive programs.

Outcomes and Insights in Health Management is a Healthways publication that covers scientific research that was elected to not be submitted for peer review.

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Topics: Employer Populations Performance/Productivity Health Plan & Health System