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The efficacy of consumer rewards to promote the use of a heart health e-platform
Upper Lobby
The efficacy of consumer rewards to promote the use of a heart health e-platform
PhD candidate, University of Toronto
BackgroundInternet-based health-risk assessments combined with lifestyle e-Support have been shown to be effective in reducing risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, participation in these e-based... Read more

Description

Background

Internet-based health-risk assessments combined with lifestyle e-Support have been shown to be effective in reducing risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, participation in these e-based heart health programs is low. Previous studies based on behavioural economic theory suggest that using extrinsic financial rewards may promote health behaviour change relative to control; however, it can be costly (e.g. $100/participant/month) and participation may be reward-dependent. It is currently unclear how consumer rewards that serve as a conditioned stimulus affect the use of freely available health e-platforms. Our objectives were:1) to examine the effects of consumer rewards on the participation level in an internet-based health risk assessment and health e-Support program; 2) to compare the number of times individuals in the conditioned reward and control groups interacted with the e-Support program.

Methods

Individuals in the conditioned reward group were recruited from the AirMiles consumer rewards promotion program. Participants received 10 AirMiles points for completing the health risk assessment on the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) website. Another 10 points were awarded for enrolling in the HSF email-based health e-Support service. Controls were not offered any points for participation and these individuals consisted of those who came to the same HSF website outside of the AirMiles promotion program. All records were completed between February 1, 2011 and February 10, 2012. Chi-square and logistic regression were used to analyze between-group differences in the participation of the health-risk assessment and eSupport program.

Results

A total of 142,726 individuals completed the health risk assessment of which 51% (n=73327)   were promotion participants. At baseline, groups were similar by age (mean ±SD; 47±14), gender (32% female), education level (57% university graduate), marital status (57% married) and number of modifiable lifestyle behaviours (2.9 ±1.4). After completing the health risk assessment, 49% (n=35835) of the individuals in the conditioned-reward group registered for the health e-Support service compared to only 5% (n=3541) in the control group (p<0.001). A greater number of individuals in the conditioned-reward group (12%) interacted with the eSupport program more than once compared to the Controls (9%), p<0.05. However, only 3% of the individuals in both groups interacted with the e-support program more than twice (p>0.05).

Conclusion

Consumer rewards were effective in increasing participation in an internet-based health risk assessment and e-Support programs. However, the overall engagement level with the e-Support program remained low. Future studies need to examine the schedules of consumer reward reinforcement and key components of e-Support intervention design on engagement level and intervention efficacy.

Sam Liu is PhD candidate at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on examining the optimal design strategies of internet-based cardiovascular disease prevention programs in patients with heart disease.

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