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1.  Personal financial incentives in health promotion: where do they fit in an ethic of autonomy? 
Health Expectations  2011;14(2):191-200.
This paper reviews the ethical controversy concerning the use of monetary incentives in health promotion, focussing specifically on the arguments relating to the impact on personal autonomy of such incentives.
Offering people small amounts of money in the context of health promotion and medical care has been attempted in a number of settings in recent years. This use of personal financial incentives has attracted a degree of ethical controversy. One form of criticism is that such schemes interfere with the autonomy of the patient or citizen in an illegitimate way.
This paper presents a thematic analysis of the main arguments concerning personal autonomy and the use of monetary incentives in behaviour change.
The main moral objections to the uses of incentives are that they may be in general or in specific instances paternalistic, coercive, involve bribery, or undermine the agency of the person.
While incentive schemes may engage these problems on occasion, there is no good reason to think that they do so inherently and of necessity. We need better behavioural science evidence to understand how incentives work, in order to evaluate their moral effects in practice.
PMCID: PMC3123700  PMID: 21348904
health promotion; personal financial incentives
2.  A randomised controlled trial to determine the effect on response of including a lottery incentive in health surveys [ISRCTN32203485] 
Postal questionnaires are an economical and simple method of data collection for research purposes but are subject to non-response bias. Several studies have explored the effect of monetary and non-monetary incentives on response. Recent meta-analyses conclude that financial incentives are an effective way of increasing response rates. However, large surveys rarely have the resources to reward individual participants. Three previous papers report on the effectiveness of lottery incentives with contradictory results. This study aimed to determine the effect of including a lottery-style incentive on response rates to a postal health survey.
Randomised controlled trial. Setting: North and West Birmingham. 8,645 patients aged 18 or over randomly selected from registers of eight general practices (family physician practices). Intervention: Inclusion of a flyer and letter with a health questionnaire informing patients that returned questionnaires would be entered into a lottery-style draw for £100 of gift vouchers. Control: Health questionnaire accompanied only by standard letter of explanation. Main outcome measures: Response rate and completion rate to questionnaire.
5,209 individuals responded with identical rates in both groups (62.1%). Practice, patient age, sex and Townsend score (a postcode based deprivation measure) were identified as predictive of response, with higher response related to older age, being female and living in an area with a lower Townsend score (less deprived).
This RCT, using a large community based sample, found that the offer of entry into a lottery style draw for £100 of High Street vouchers has no effect on response rates to a postal health questionnaire.
PMCID: PMC534094  PMID: 15533256
3.  Predictors of primary care referrals to a vascular disease prevention lifestyle program among participants in a cluster randomised trial 
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a large burden of disease, but is amenable to prevention through lifestyle modification. This paper examines patient and practice predictors of referral to a lifestyle modification program (LMP) offered as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) of prevention of vascular disease in primary care.
Data from the intervention arm of a cluster RCT which recruited 36 practices through two rural and three urban primary care organisations were used. In each practice, 160 eligible high risk patients were invited to participate. Practices were randomly allocated to intervention or control groups. Intervention practice staff were trained in screening, motivational interviewing and counselling and encouraged to refer high risk patients to a LMP involving individual and group sessions. Data include patient surveys; clinical audit; practice survey on capacity for preventive care; referral records from the LMP. Predictors of referral were examined using multi-level logistic regression modelling after adjustment for confounding factors.
Of 301 eligible patients, 190 (63.1%) were referred to the LMP. Independent predictors of referral were baseline BMI ≥ 25 (OR 2.87 95%CI:1.10, 7.47), physical inactivity (OR 2.90 95%CI:1.36,6.14), contemplation/preparation/action stage of change for physical activity (OR 2.75 95%CI:1.07, 7.03), rural location (OR 12.50 95%CI:1.43, 109.7) and smaller practice size (1–3 GPs) (OR 16.05 95%CI:2.74, 94.24).
Providing a well-structured evidence-based lifestyle intervention, free of charge to patients, with coordination and support for referral processes resulted in over 60% of participating high risk patients being referred for disease prevention. Contrary to expectations, referrals were more frequent from rural and smaller practices suggesting that these practices may be more ready to engage with these programs.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3483009  PMID: 22856459
Preventive health care; General practice; Health behaviour; Lifestyle modification; Referral
4.  Incentive payments to general practitioners aimed at increasing opportunistic testing of young women for chlamydia: a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:70.
Financial incentives have been used for many years internationally to improve quality of care in general practice. The aim of this pilot study was to determine if offering general practitioners (GP) a small incentive payment per test would increase chlamydia testing in women aged 16 to 24 years, attending general practice.
General practice clinics (n = 12) across Victoria, Australia, were cluster randomized to receive either a $AUD5 payment per chlamydia test or no payment for testing 16 to 24 year old women for chlamydia. Data were collected on the number of chlamydia tests and patient consultations undertaken by each GP over two time periods: 12 month pre-trial and 6 month trial period. The impact of the intervention was assessed using a mixed effects logistic regression model, accommodating for clustering at GP level.
Testing increased from 6.2% (95% CI: 4.2, 8.4) to 8.8% (95% CI: 4.8, 13.0) (p = 0.1) in the control group and from 11.5% (95% CI: 4.6, 18.5) to 13.4% (95% CI: 9.5, 17.5) (p = 0.4) in the intervention group. Overall, the intervention did not result in a significant increase in chlamydia testing in general practice. The odds ratio for an increase in testing in the intervention group compared to the control group was 0.9 (95% CI: 0.6, 1.2). Major barriers to increased chlamydia testing reported by GPs included a lack of time, difficulty in remembering to offer testing and a lack of patient awareness around testing.
A small financial incentive alone did not increase chlamydia testing among young women attending general practice. It is possible small incentive payments in conjunction with reminder and feedback systems may be effective, as may higher financial incentive payments. Further research is required to determine if financial incentives can increase testing in Australian general practice, the type and level of financial scheme required and whether incentives needs to be part of a multi-faceted package.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12608000499381.
PMCID: PMC2841675  PMID: 20158918
5.  What about money? Effect of small monetary incentives on enrollment, retention, and motivation to change behaviour in an HIV/STD prevention counselling intervention. The Project RESPECT Study Group 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  1998;74(4):253-255.
OBJECTIVES: We studied the effect of small monetary incentives and non-monetary incentives of similar value on enrollment and participation in clinic based HIV/STD prevention counselling. We examined incident STDs to try to assess whether participants offered money may be less motivated to change risky behaviours than those offered other incentives. METHODS: Patients from five US STD clinics were invited to enroll in a multisession risk reduction counselling intervention and, based on their enrollment date, were offered either $15 for each additional session or non-monetary incentives worth $15. The two incentive groups were compared on participants' enrollment, completion of intervention sessions, and new STDs over the 24 months after enrollment. RESULTS: Of 648 patients offered money, 198 (31%) enrolled compared with 160 (23%) of 696 patients offered other incentives (p = 0.002). Enrollees in the two incentive groups had similar baseline characteristics, including condom use. Of the 198 participants offered money, 109 (55%) completed all sessions compared with 59 (37%) of the participants offered other incentives (p < 0.0001). Comparing those offered money with those offered other incentives STD rates were similar after 6, 12, and 24 months. CONCLUSIONS: Small monetary incentives enhanced enrollment and participation compared with other incentives of similar value. Regardless of incentive offered, participants had similar post-enrollment STD rates, suggesting that the type of incentive does not adversely affect motivation to change behaviour. Money may be useful in encouraging high risk individuals to participate in and complete counselling or other public health interventions. 

PMCID: PMC1758123  PMID: 9924463
6.  The effect of a monetary incentive on return of a postal health and development questionnaire: a randomised trial [ISRCTN53994660] 
Postal questionnaires are widely used to collect data in healthcare research but a poor response rate may reduce the validity and reliability of results. There was a lack of evidence available relating to use of a monetary incentive to improve the response rate in the healthcare setting.
The MRC ORACLE Children Study is assessing the health and development of nearly 9000 seven year old children whose mothers' joined the MRC ORACLE Trial. We carried out a randomised controlled trial of inclusion of monetary incentive (five pound voucher redeemable at many high street stores) with the reminder questionnaire to parents. This trial took place between April 2002 and November 2003. When the parents were sent the reminder questionnaire about their child's health and development they were randomly assigned by concealed computer-generated allocation stratified by week of birthday to receive a five pound voucher or no incentive. The population were 722 non-responders to the initial mailing of a 12-page questionnaire. Main outcome measures: Difference in response rate between the two groups.
Inclusion of the voucher with the reminder questionnaire resulted in a 11.7%(95% CI 4.7% to 18.6%) improvement in the response rate between the two groups.
This improvement in response rate and hence the validity and reliability of results obtained appears to be justified ethically and financially.
PMCID: PMC1201139  PMID: 16109160
7.  Increasing the immunization of preschool children; an evaluation of applied community interventions. 
We evaluated the relative impact of four procedures designed to encourage parents to obtain immunizations for their children. In a public health setting, the families of 1,133 immunization-deficient preschool children were randomly assigned to six conditions: (a) a general prompt; (b) a more client-specific prompt; (c) a specific prompt and increased public health clinic access; (d) a specific prompt and monetary incentives; (e) contact control; and (f) no contact control. All interventions, except the general prompt, produced some evidence of improvement when compared with the control groups. The monetary incentive group revealed the largest effect, followed by the increased access group, specific prompt group, and general prompt group, respectively. The data suggest that relatively powerful and immediate effects on preschoolers' clinic attendance for immunization may be produced by monetary incentives in conjunction with client-specific prompts. However, client-specific prompts alone appear to be the most cost-effective of the interventions.
PMCID: PMC1307948  PMID: 6439714
8.  An Electronic Clinical Decision Support Tool to Assist Primary Care Providers in Cardiovascular Disease Risk Management: Development and Mixed Methods Evaluation 
Challenges remain in translating the well-established evidence for management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk into clinical practice. Although electronic clinical decision support (CDS) systems are known to improve practitioner performance, their development in Australian primary health care settings is limited.
Study aims were to (1) develop a valid CDS tool that assists Australian general practitioners (GPs) in global CVD risk management, and (2) preliminarily evaluate its acceptability to GPs as a point-of-care resource for both general and underserved populations.
CVD risk estimation (based on Framingham algorithms) and risk-based management advice (using recommendations from six Australian guidelines) were programmed into a software package. Tool validation: Data from 137 patients attending a physician’s clinic were analyzed to compare the tool’s risk scores with those obtained from an independently programmed algorithm in a separate statistics package. The tool’s management advice was compared with a physician’s recommendations based on a manual review of the guidelines. Field test: The tool was then tested with 21 GPs from eight general practices and three Aboriginal Medical Services. Customized CDS-based recommendations were generated for 200 routinely attending patients (33% Aboriginal) using information extracted from the health record by a research assistant. GPs reviewed these recommendations during each consultation. Changes in CVD risk factor measurement and management were recorded. In-depth interviews with GPs were conducted.
Validation testing: The tool’s risk assessment algorithm correlated very highly with the independently programmed version in the separate statistics package (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.999). For management advice, there were only two cases of disagreement between the tool and the physician. Field test: GPs found 77% (153/200) of patient outputs easy to understand and agreed with screening and prescribing recommendations in 72% and 64% of outputs, respectively; 26% of patients had their CVD risk factor history updated; 73% had at least one CVD risk factor measured or tests ordered. For people assessed at high CVD risk (n = 82), 10% and 9%, respectively, had lipid-lowering and BP-lowering medications commenced or dose adjustments made, while 7% newly commenced anti-platelet medications. Three key qualitative findings emerged: (1) GPs found the tool enabled a systematic approach to care; (2) the tool greatly influenced CVD risk communication; (3) successful implementation into routine care would require integration with practice software, minimal data entry, regular revision with updated guidelines, and a self-auditing feature. There were no substantive differences in study findings for Aboriginal Medical Services GPs, and the tool was generally considered appropriate for use with Aboriginal patients.
A fully-integrated, self-populating, and potentially Internet-based CDS tool could contribute to improved global CVD risk management in Australian primary health care. The findings from this study will inform a large-scale trial intervention.
PMCID: PMC2802562  PMID: 20018588
Decision support systems; clinical; cardiovascular diseases; physicians, family; Aborigines, Australian
9.  Does quality of care for hypertension in primary care vary with postcode area deprivation? An observational study 
Hypertension is a common major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease. Little is known about how achievement of financially incentivised and non-incentivised indicators of quality of care varies with deprivation, or about the effect of financial incentives on health inequalities in hypertension. General practices in the UK have received financial incentives for high quality care since 2004. This study set out to assess the variations in achievement of incentivised and non-incentivised quality indicators for hypertension by patient area deprivation, before and after the introduction of financial incentives.
Achievement of 14 quality indicators for hypertension in 304 patient participants in 18 general practices in Norfolk, England was assessed one year before (2003) and one year after (2005) the introduction of financial incentives. Four indicators were incentivised and 10 were non-incentivised. Each participant's postcode was linked to an index of multiple deprivation score.
The range of achievement of incentivised quality indicators was 65-94% in the least deprived third of participants, and 77-94% in the most deprived third in 2003 and 2005 combined. For non-incentivised indicators, the range was 7-85% in the least deprived and 24-93% in the most deprived third.
Achievement of incentivised quality indicators in 2003 and 2005 combined did not vary significantly by area deprivation. Achievement of three of 10 non-incentivised indicators was higher in participants from more deprived postcode areas: providing lifestyle advice (odds ratio 1.34, 95% confidence interval 1.00-1.79), assessment of peripheral vascular disease (1.54, 1.02-2.35) and electrocardiography (1.38, 1.04-1.82).
Participants from more deprived areas received at least the same, and sometimes better, quality of care than those from less deprived areas. Quality of care for hypertension in general practice may not follow the inequitable distribution seen with some other conditions.
PMCID: PMC3240572  PMID: 22047508
Hypertension; Inequalities; Primary Health Care; Quality Indicators
10.  A small unconditional non-financial incentive suggests an increase in survey response rates amongst older general practitioners (GPs): a randomised controlled trial study 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:108.
Few studies have investigated the effect of small unconditional non-monetary incentives on survey response rates amongst GPs or medical practitioners. This study assessed the effectiveness of offering a small unconditional non-financial incentive to increase survey response rates amongst general practitioners within a randomised controlled trial (RCT).
An RCT was conducted within a general practice survey that investigated how to prolong working lives amongst ageing GPs in Australia. GPs (n = 125) were randomised to receive an attractive pen or no pen during their first invitation for participation in a survey. GPs could elect to complete the survey online or via mail. Two follow up reminders were sent without a pen to both groups. The main outcome measure was response rates.
The response rate for GPs who received a pen was higher in the intervention group (61.9%) compared to the control group (46.8%). This study did not find a statistically significant effect of a small unconditional non-financial incentive (in the form of a pen) on survey response rates amongst GPs (Odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: 1.85 (0.91 to 3.77). No GPs completed the online version.
A small unconditional non-financial incentives, in the form of a pen, may improve response rates for GPs.
PMCID: PMC3733617  PMID: 23899116
Surveys; Randomized controlled trial; Response rate; Family physician; Questionnaire; Incentives; Employment; Online
11.  The Impact of a Diabetes Local Enhanced Service on Quality Outcome Framework Diabetes Outcomes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83738.
The rising challenge of diabetes requires novel service delivery approaches. In the UK, Local Enhanced Services (LES) have been commissioned for diabetes. Health professionals from general practices (GPs) who signed up to LES were given additional training (and a monetary incentive) to improve management of patients with diabetes. All practices in the PCT were invited to the LES initiative, which ensured avoiding selection bias. The aim of the study was to examine the impact of LES in terms of diabetes Quality Outcome Framework (QOF) indicators: DM23(glycaemia), DM17(lipid) and DM12(blood pressure; BP).
QOF diabetes indicators were examined using data from 76 general practices for 2009–2010 in a large primary care trust area in Birmingham, UK. Data were extracted from Quality Management Analysis System. The primary outcome was a difference in achievement of QOF indicators between LES and NLES practices. A secondary outcome was the difference between LES and non-LES practices for hospital first and follow-up appointments.
We did not find any difference for DM12(BP) and DM17(lipid) outcomes between LES and NLES practices. However, LES practices were more likely to achieve the DM23(glycaemia) outcome (estimated odds 1.459;95% CI:1.378-1.544; P=0.0001). The probability of achieving satisfactory level of DM23(glycaemia) increased by almost 10% when GPs belonged to LES groups compared with GPs in NLES group. LES practices were less likely to refer patients to secondary care.
Overall, LES practices performed better in the achievement of DM23(glycaemia) and also referred fewer patients to hospital, thereby meeting their objectives. This suggests that the LES approach is beneficial and needs to be further explored in order to ascertain whether the impact exerted was due to LES.
PMCID: PMC3866172  PMID: 24358306
12.  Do Noncontingent Incentives Increase Survey Response Rates among Mental Health Providers? A Randomized Trial Comparison 
Surveys can be a useful tool for mental health services research. Unfortunately, clinicians typically show low response rates to surveys. To determine whether noncontingent incentives would increase responses among clinicians, we compared no incentive versus four incentives (mood magnet, $1, $2, $5) on response to a 7-page self-report survey of mental health assessment and treatment practices in a sample of 500 clinicians from the 5 largest professional guilds. Noncontingent monetary incentives significantly increased response rate compared to no incentive across all disciplines. Noncontingent monetary incentives are discussed as a cost-effective method for increasing survey response rate among mental health clinicians.
PMCID: PMC2715443  PMID: 19421851
response rate; survey research; incentives; mental health services
13.  Improved delivery of cardiovascular care (IDOCC) through outreach facilitation: study protocol and implementation details of a cluster randomized controlled trial in primary care 
There is a need to find innovative approaches for translating best practices for chronic disease care into daily primary care practice routines. Primary care plays a crucial role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. There is, however, a substantive care gap, and many challenges exist in implementing evidence-based care. The Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) project is a pragmatic trial designed to improve the delivery of evidence-based care for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in primary care practices using practice outreach facilitation.
The IDOCC project is a stepped-wedge cluster randomized control trial in which Practice Outreach Facilitators work with primary care practices to improve cardiovascular disease prevention and management for patients at highest risk. Primary care practices in a large health region in Eastern Ontario, Canada, were eligible to participate. The intervention consists of regular monthly meetings with the Practice Outreach Facilitator over a one- to two-year period. Starting with audit and feedback, consensus building, and goal setting, the practices are supported in changing practice behavior by incorporating chronic care model elements. These elements include (a) evidence-based decision support for providers, (b) delivery system redesign for practices, (c) enhanced self-management support tools provided to practices to help them engage patients, and (d) increased community resource linkages for practices to enhance referral of patients. The primary outcome is a composite score measured at the level of the patient to represent each practice's adherence to evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular care. Qualitative analysis of the Practice Outreach Facilitators' written narratives of their ongoing practice interactions will be done. These textual analyses will add further insight into understanding critical factors impacting project implementation.
This pragmatic, stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial with both quantitative and process evaluations demonstrates innovative methods of implementing large-scale quality improvement and evidence-based approaches to care delivery. This is the first Canadian study to examine the impact of a large-scale multifaceted cardiovascular quality-improvement program in primary care. It is anticipated that through the evaluation of IDOCC, we will demonstrate an effective, practical, and sustainable means of improving the cardiovascular health of patients across Canada.
Trial Registration NCT00574808
PMCID: PMC3197547  PMID: 21952084
14.  Improving response rates using a monetary incentive for patient completion of questionnaires: an observational study 
Poor response rates to postal questionnaires can introduce bias and reduce the statistical power of a study. To improve response rates in our trial in primary care we tested the effect of introducing an unconditional direct payment of £5 for the completion of postal questionnaires.
We recruited patients in general practice with knee problems from sites across the United Kingdom. An evidence-based strategy was used to follow-up patients at twelve months with postal questionnaires. This included an unconditional direct payment of £5 to patients for the completion and return of questionnaires. The first 105 patients did not receive the £5 incentive, but the subsequent 442 patients did. We used logistic regression to analyse the effect of introducing a monetary incentive to increase the response to postal questionnaires.
The response rate following reminders for the historical controls was 78.1% (82 of 105) compared with 88.0% (389 of 442) for those patients who received the £5 payment (diff = 9.9%, 95% CI 2.3% to 19.1%). Direct payments significantly increased the odds of response (adjusted odds ratio = 2.2, 95% CI 1.2 to 4.0, P = 0.009) with only 12 of 442 patients declining the payment. The incentive did not save costs to the trial – the extra cost per additional respondent was almost £50.
The direct payment of £5 significantly increased the completion of postal questionnaires at negligible increase in cost for an adequately powered study.
PMCID: PMC1810307  PMID: 17326837
15.  Analysis of the psychological impact of a vascular risk factor intervention: results from a cluster randomized controlled trial in Australian general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:190.
Screening for vascular disease, risk assessment and management are encouraged in general practice however there is limited evidence about the emotional impact on patients. The Health Improvement and Prevention Study evaluated the impact of a general practice-based vascular risk factor intervention on behavioural and physiological risk factors in 30 Australian practices. The primary aim of this analysis is to investigate the psychological impact of participating in the intervention arm of the trial. The secondary aim is to identify the mediating effects of changes in behavioural risk factors or BMI.
This study is an analysis of a secondary outcome from a cluster randomized controlled trial. Patients, aged 40–65 years, were randomly selected from practice records. Those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease were excluded. Socio-demographic details, behavioural risk factors and psychological distress were measured at baseline and 12 months. The Kessler Psychological Distress Score (K10) was the outcome measure for multi-level, multivariable analysis and a product-of-coefficient test to assess the mediating effects of behaviour change.
Baseline data were available 384 participants in the intervention group and 315 in the control group. Twelve month data were available for 355 in the intervention group and 300 in the control group. The K10 score of patients in the intervention group (14.78, SD 5.74) was lower at 12 months compared to the control group (15.97, SD 6.30). K10 at 12 months was significantly associated with the score at baseline and being unable to work but not with age, gender, change in behavioural risk factors or change in BMI.
The reduction of K10 in the intervention group demonstrates that a general practice based intervention to identify and manage vascular risk factors did not adversely impact on the psychological distress of the participants. The impact of the intervention on distress was not mediated by a change in the behavioural risk factors or BMI, suggesting that there must be other mediators that might explain the positive impact of the intervention on emotional wellbeing.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000423415.
PMCID: PMC3890522  PMID: 24330347
16.  Financial incentives and coverage of child health interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Public Health  2013;13(Suppl 3):S30.
Financial incentives are widely used strategies to alleviate poverty, foster development, and improve health. Cash transfer programs, microcredit, user fee removal policies and voucher schemes that provide direct or indirect monetary incentives to households have been used for decades in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and more recently in Southeast Asia. Until now, no systematic review of the impact of financial incentives on coverage and uptake of health interventions targeting children under 5 years of age has been conducted. The objective of this review is to provide estimates on the effect of six types of financial incentive programs: (i) Unconditional cash transfers (CT), (ii) Conditional cash transfers (CCT), (iii) Microcredit (MC), (iv) Conditional Microcredit (CMC), (v) Voucher schemes (VS) and (vi) User fee removal (UFR) on the uptake and coverage of health interventions targeting children under the age of five years.
We conducted systematic searches of a series of databases until September 1st, 2012, to identify relevant studies reporting on the impact of financial incentives on coverage of health interventions and behaviors targeting children under 5 years of age. The quality of the studies was assessed using the CHERG criteria. Meta-analyses were undertaken to estimate the effect when multiple studies meeting our inclusion criteria were available.
Our searches resulted in 1671 titles identified 25 studies reporting on the impact of financial incentive programs on 5 groups of coverage indicators: breastfeeding practices (breastfeeding incidence, proportion of children receiving colostrum and early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months and duration of breastfeeding); vaccination (coverage of full immunization, partial immunization and specific antigens); health care use (seeking healthcare when child was ill, visits to health facilities for preventive reasons, visits to health facilities for any reason, visits for health check-up including growth control); management of diarrhoeal disease (ORS use during diarrhea episode, continued feeding during diarrhea, healthcare during diarrhea episode) and other preventive health interventions (iron supplementation, vitamin A, zinc supplementation, preventive deworming). The quality of evidence on the effect of financial incentives on breastfeeding practices was low but seems to indicate a potential positive impact on receiving colostrum, early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding. There is no effect of financial incentives on immunization coverage although there was moderate quality evidence of conditional cash transfers leading to a small but non-significant increase in coverage of age-appropriate immunization. There was low quality evidence of impact of CCT on healthcare use by children under age 5 (Risk difference: 0.14 [95%CI: 0.03; 0.26]) as well as low quality evidence of an effect of user fee removal on use of curative health services (RD=0.62 [0.41; 0.82]).
Financial incentives may have potential to promote increased coverage of several important child health interventions, but the quality of evidence available is low. The more pronounced effects seem to be achieved by programs that directly removed user fees for access to health services. Some indication of effect were also observed for programs that conditioned financial incentives on participation in health education and attendance to health care visits. This finding suggest that the measured effect may be less a consequence of the financial incentive and more due to conditionalities addressing important informational barriers.
PMCID: PMC3847540  PMID: 24564520
17.  Cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular risk management by practice nurses in primary care 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:148.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is largely preventable and prevention expenditures are relatively low. The randomised controlled SPRING-trial (SPRING-RCT) shows that cardiovascular risk management by practice nurses in general practice with and without self-monitoring both decreases cardiovascular risk, with no additional effect of self-monitoring. For considering future approaches of cardiovascular risk reduction, cost effectiveness analyses of regular care and additional self-monitoring are performed from a societal perspective on data from the SPRING-RCT.
Direct medical and productivity costs are analysed alongside the SPRING-RCT, studying 179 participants (men aged 50–75 years, women aged 55–75 years), with an elevated cardiovascular risk, in 20 general practices in the Netherlands. Standard cardiovascular treatment according to Dutch guidelines is compared with additional counselling based on self-monitoring at home (pedometer, weighing scale and/ or blood pressure device) both by trained practice nurses. Cost-effectiveness is evaluated for both treatment groups and patient categories (age, sex, education).
Costs are €98 and €187 per percentage decrease in 10-year cardiovascular mortality estimation, for the control and intervention group respectively. In both groups lost productivity causes the majority of the costs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is approximately €1100 (95% CI: -5157 to 6150). Self-monitoring may be cost effective for females and higher educated participants, however confidence intervals are wide.
In this study population, regular treatment is more cost effective than counselling based on self-monitoring, with the majority of costs caused by lost productivity.
Trial registration identifier: http://NTR2188
PMCID: PMC3599815  PMID: 23418958
Cost-effectiveness; Arteriosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Primary health care; Prevention and control; Self-management
18.  A monetary incentive increases postal survey response rates for pharmacists 
Background: Achieving acceptable response rates from health care providers via postal questionnaires is an ongoing challenge. The use of monetary incentives is one of the most effective strategies for increasing response rates. However, the effect and cost of such an incentive on retail pharmacists' response rates has not been well studied.
Methods: A sample of 700 pharmacies was selected at random from the electronic Yellow Pages in NSW Australia and mailed a brief survey regarding pharmacotherapies and advice for smoking cessation. Half of the sample was randomly allocated to receive an offer of an US$14 gift voucher.
Results: The response rates were 65.9% for the voucher group and 53.5% for the no-voucher group. The odds of response from the voucher group was 1.68 (95%CI = 1.23, 2.30) times greater than for the no-voucher group. The cost per additional respondent was US$67.95. The incentive also reduced follow up costs by 10%.
Conclusions: A moderately sized monetary incentive is able to achieve a significant increase in response rates for retail pharmacists, thereby reducing potential bias in the sample.
PMCID: PMC1732979  PMID: 16286502
19.  Preventive evidence into practice (PEP) study: implementation of guidelines to prevent primary vascular disease in general practice protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial 
There are significant gaps in the implementation and uptake of evidence-based guideline recommendations for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes in Australian general practice. This study protocol describes the methodology for a cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a model that aims to improve the implementation of these guidelines in Australian general practice developed by a collaboration between researchers, non-government organisations, and the profession.
We hypothesise that the intervention will alter the behaviour of clinicians and patients resulting in improvements of recording of lifestyle and physiological risk factors (by 20%) and increased adherence to guideline recommendations for: the management of CVD and diabetes risk factors (by 20%); and lifestyle and physiological risk factors of patients at risk (by 5%). Thirty-two general practices will be randomised in a 1:1 allocation to receive either the intervention or continue with usual care, after stratification by state. The intervention will be delivered through: small group education; audit of patient records to determine preventive care; and practice facilitation visits adapted to the needs of the practices. Outcome data will be extracted from electronic medical records and patient questionnaires, and qualitative evaluation from provider and patient interviews.
We plan to disseminate study findings widely and directly inform implementation strategies by governments, professional bodies, and non-government organisations including the partner organisations.
PMCID: PMC3564812  PMID: 23327664
Primary care; Family medicine; Guidelines; Preventive care; Cardiovascular disease
20.  Prescribing Data in General Practice Demonstration (PDGPD) project - a cluster randomised controlled trial of a quality improvement intervention to achieve better prescribing for chronic heart failure and hypertension 
Research literature consistently documents that scientifically based therapeutic recommendations are not always followed in the hospital or in the primary care setting. Currently, there is evidence that some general practitioners in Australia are not prescribing appropriately for patients diagnosed with 1) hypertension (HT) and 2) chronic heart failure (CHF). The objectives of this study were to improve general practitioner’s drug treatment management of these patients through feedback on their own prescribing and small group discussions with peers and a trained group facilitator. The impact evaluation includes quantitative assessment of prescribing changes at 6, 9, 12 and 18 months after the intervention.
A pragmatic multi site cluster RCT began recruiting practices in October 2009 to evaluate the effects of a multi-faceted quality improvement (QI) intervention on prescribing practice among Australian general practitioners (GP) in relation to patients with CHF and HT. General practices were recruited nationally through General Practice Networks across Australia. Participating practices were randomly allocated to one of three groups: two groups received the QI intervention (the prescribing indicator feedback reports and small group discussion) with each group undertaking the clinical topics (CHF and HT) in reverse order to the other. The third group was waitlisted to receive the intervention 6 months later and acted as a “control” for the other two groups.
De-identified data on practice, doctor and patient characteristics and their treatment for CHF and HT are extracted at six-monthly intervals before and after the intervention. Post-test comparisons will be conducted between the intervention and control arms using intention to treat analysis and models that account for clustering of practices in a Network and clustering of patients within practices and GPs.
This paper describes the study protocol for a project that will contribute to the development of acceptable and sustainable methods to promote QI activities within routine general practice, enhance prescribing practices and improve patient outcomes in the context of CHF and HT. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), Trial # 320870.
PMCID: PMC3515472  PMID: 22913571
21.  Has incentive payment improved venous thrombo-embolism risk assessment and treatment of hospital in-patients? 
F1000Research  2013;2:41.
This paper focuses on financial incentives rewarding successful implementation of guidelines in the UK National Health Service (NHS). In particular, it assesses the implementation of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) guidance in 2010 on the risk assessment and secondary prevention of VTE in hospital in-patients and the financial incentives driving successful implementation introduced by the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation for Payment Framework (CQUIN) for 2010-2011. We systematically compared the implementation of evidence-based national guidance on VTE prevention across two specialities (general medicine and orthopaedics) in four hospital sites in the greater South West of England by auditing and evaluating VTE prevention activity for 2009 (i.e. before the 2010 NICE guideline) and late 2010 (almost a year after the guideline was published). Analysis of VTE prevention activity reported in 816 randomly selected orthopaedic and general medical in-patient medical records was complemented by a qualitative study into the practical responses to revised national guidance. This paper’s contribution to knowledge is to suggest that by financially rewarding the implementation of national guidance on VTE prevention, paradoxes and contradictions have become apparent between the ‘payment by volume system’ of Healthcare Resource Groups and the ‘payment by results’ system of CQUIN.
PMCID: PMC3790600  PMID: 24358864
22.  Does a monetary incentive improve the response to a postal questionnaire in a randomised controlled trial? The MINT incentive study 
Trials  2009;10:44.
Sending a monetary incentive with postal questionnaires has been found to improve the proportion of responders, in research in non-healthcare settings. However, there is little research on use of incentives to improve follow-up rates in clinical trials, and existing studies are inconclusive. We conducted a randomised trial among participants in the Managing Injuries of the Neck Trial (MINT) to investigate the effects on the proportion of questionnaires returned and overall non-response of sending a £5 gift voucher with a follow-up questionnaire.
Participants in MINT were randomised to receive either: (a) a £5 gift voucher (incentive group) or (b) no gift voucher (no incentive group), with their 4 month or 8 month follow-up questionnaire. We recorded, for each group, the number of questionnaires returned, the number returned without any chasing from the study office, the overall number of non-responders (after all chasing efforts by the study office), and the costs of following up each group.
2144 participants were randomised, 1070 to the incentive group and 1074 to the no incentive group. The proportion of questionnaires returned (RR 1.10 (95% CI 1.05, 1.16)) and the proportion returned without chasing (RR 1.14 (95% CI 1.05, 1.24) were higher in the incentive group, and the overall non-response rate was lower (RR 0.68 (95% CI 0.53, 0.87)). Adjustment for injury severity and hospital of recruitment to MINT made no difference to these results, and there were no differences in results between the 4-month and 8-month follow up questionnaires. Analysis of costs suggested a cost of £67.29 per additional questionnaire returned.
Monetary incentives may be an effective way to increase the proportion of postal questionnaires returned and minimise loss to follow-up in clinical trials.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC2710321  PMID: 19545427
23.  Relationship between practice organization and cardiovascular risk factor recording in general practice. 
The British Journal of General Practice  1998;48(428):1054-1058.
BACKGROUND: Research findings suggest that the level of cardiovascular risk factor recording in general practice is not yet optimal. Several studies indicate a relation between the organization of cardiovascular disease prevention at practice level and cardiovascular risk factor recording. AIM: To explore the relation between the organization of cardiovascular disease prevention and risk factor recording in general practice. METHOD: A cross-sectional study was conducted using data on adherence to selected practice guidelines and on cardiovascular risk factor recording from 95 general practices. Practice guidelines were developed beforehand in a consensus procedure. Adherence was assessed by means of a questionnaire and practice observations. Risk factor recording was assessed by an audit of 50 medical records per practice. RESULTS: Factor analysis of risk factor recording revealed three dimensions explaining 76% of the variance: recording of health-related behaviour, recording of clinical parameters, and recording of medical background parameters. Adherence to the guideline 'proactively invite patients to attend for assessment of cardiovascular risk' was related to a higher recording level in all three dimensions. Practice characteristics did not show a consistent relationship to the level of risk factor recording. CONCLUSION: This study indicates that the presence of a system of proactive invitation was related to the recording of cardiovascular risk factors in medical records in general practice.
PMCID: PMC1410003  PMID: 9624746
24.  Health improvement and prevention study (HIPS) - evaluation of an intervention to prevent vascular disease in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:57.
The Health Improvement and Prevention Study (HIPS) study aims to evaluate the capacity of general practice to identify patients at high risk for developing vascular disease and to reduce their risk of vascular disease and diabetes through behavioural interventions delivered in general practice and by the local primary care organization.
HIPS is a stratified randomized controlled trial involving 30 general practices in NSW, Australia. Practices are randomly allocated to an 'intervention' or 'control' group. General practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) are offered training in lifestyle counselling and motivational interviewing as well as practice visits and patient educational resources. Patients enrolled in the trial present for a health check in which the GP and PN provide brief lifestyle counselling based on the 5As model (ask, assess, advise, assist, and arrange) and refer high risk patients to a diet education and physical activity program. The program consists of two individual visits with a dietician or exercise physiologist and four group sessions, after which patients are followed up by the GP or PN. In each practice 160 eligible patients aged between 40 and 64 years are invited to participate in the study, with the expectation that 40 will be eligible and willing to participate. Evaluation data collection consists of (1) a practice questionnaire, (2) GP and PN questionnaires to assess preventive care attitudes and practices, (3) patient questionnaire to assess self-reported lifestyle behaviours and readiness to change, (4) physical assessment including weight, height, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure, (5) a fasting blood test for glucose and lipids, (6) a clinical record audit, and (7) qualitative data collection. All measures are collected at baseline and 12 months except the patient questionnaire which is also collected at 6 months. Study outcomes before and after the intervention is compared between intervention and control groups after adjusting for baseline differences and clustering at the level of the practice.
This study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of a primary care intervention to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in general practice patients. It will inform current policies and programs designed to prevent these conditions in Australian primary health care.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2923104  PMID: 20687956
25.  Motivated attention: Incentive effects on attentional modification of prepulse inhibition 
Psychophysiology  2007;44(6):839-845.
Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle is greater for attended compared to ignored prestimuli, and, consistent with theories of motivated attention, initial evidence suggests that this effect is greater among participants given performance-based incentives. The present study examined a within-subjects incentive manipulation. Participants (n = 41) completed two blocks of a tone discrimination task. During the incentive block, participants received trialwise feedback with small monetary incentives for task performance. Startle eyeblink EMG responses to auditory probes were assessed at 60-, 120-, and 180-ms tone-probe stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs). As predicted, PPI was enhanced during attended compared to ignored prestimuli only at the 120-ms SOA in the incentive condition. There was no evidence of attentional modification in the no-incentive condition. These data suggest that attentional modification of PPI is sensitive to within-subjects manipulations of incentive, providing a useful tool for testing models of motivated attention in psychopathology and psychopharmacology.
PMCID: PMC2650018  PMID: 17640265
Attention; Startle reflex; Prepulse inhibition; Incentive; Motivation

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