Financial incentives were the single most effective intervention for smoking cessation in pregnancy in a recent Cochrane Review, but based on a few small trials in the United States using only 7-day point prevalence measures of cessation. This study estimates (a) prolonged cessation in an unselected population of English pregnant smokers who are offered financial incentives for quitting and (b) ‘gaming’, i.e. false reporting of smoking status to enter the scheme or gain an incentive.
Single-arm intervention study
Antenatal clinic and community
A total of 239 pregnant smokers enrolled into the financial incentive scheme, attending for maternity care at one hospital in an area of high deprivation in England over a 42-week period.
Smoking cessation at delivery and 6 months postpartum, assessed using salivary cotinine; gaming assessed using urinary and salivary cotinine at enrolment, 28 and 36 weeks gestation, and 2 days and 6 months postpartum.
Thirty-nine per cent (239 of 615) of smokers were enrolled into the scheme, 60% (143 of 239) of whom made a quit attempt. Of those enrolled, 20% [48 of 239; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 14.9%, 25.1%] were quit at delivery and 10% (25 of 239; 95% CI = 6.2%, 13.8%) at 6 months postpartum. There was no evidence that women gamed to enter the scheme, but evidence that 4% (10 of 239) of those enrolled gamed on one or more occasions to gain vouchers.
Enrolment on an incentive scheme in an unselected English cohort of pregnant smokers was associated with prolonged cessation rates comparable to those reported in US trials. Rates of gaming were arguably insufficiently high to invalidate the use of such schemes.
Financial incentives; gaming; pregnancy; smoking; smoking cessation; vouchers
To evaluate the impact of the 2011 Scottish ban on multi-buy promotions of alcohol in retail stores.
Design and setting
Difference-in-differences analysis was used to estimate the impact of the ban on the volume of alcohol purchased by Scottish households, compared with those in England and Wales, between January 2010 and June 2012.
A total of 22 356 households in Scotland, England and Wales.
Records of alcohol purchasing from each of four categories (beer and cider, wine, spirits and flavoured alcoholic beverages), as well as total volume of pure alcohol purchased.
Controlling for general time trends and household heterogeneity, there was no significant effect of the multi-buy ban in Scotland on volume of alcohol purchased either for the whole population or for individual socio-economic groups. There was also no significant effect on those who were large pre-ban purchasers of alcohol. Most multi-buys were for beer and cider or for wine. The frequency of shopping trips involving beer and cider purchases increased by 9.2% following the ban (P < 0.01), while the number of products purchased on each trip decreased by 8.1% (P < 0.01). For wine, however, these effects were not significant.
Banning multi-buy promotions for alcohol in Scotland did not reduce alcohol purchasing in the short term. Wider regulation of price promotion and price may be needed to achieve this.
Alcohol consumption; alcohol purchasing; difference-in-differences analyses; price promotions; regulation; Scottish ban on multi-buys
Objectives: Titmuss hypothesized that paying blood donors would reduce the quality of the blood donated and would be economically inefficient. We report here the first systematic review to test these hypotheses, reporting on both financial and nonfinancial incentives. Method: Studies deemed eligible for inclusion were peer-reviewed, experimental studies that presented data on the quantity (as a proxy for efficiency) and quality of blood donated in at least two groups: those donating blood when offered an incentive, and those donating blood with no offer of an incentive. The following were searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO using OVID SP, CINAHL via EBSCO and CENTRAL, the Cochrane Library, Econlit via EBSCO, JSTOR Health and General Science Collection, and Google. Results: The initial search yielded 1100 abstracts, which resulted in 89 full papers being assessed for eligibility, of which seven studies, reported in six papers, met the inclusion criteria. The included studies involved 93,328 participants. Incentives had no impact on the likelihood of donation (OR = 1.22 CI 95% 0.91–1.63; p = .19). There was no difference between financial and nonfinancial incentives in the quantity of blood donated. Of the two studies that assessed quality of blood, one found no effect and the other found an adverse effect from the offer of a free cholesterol test (β = 0.011 p < .05). Conclusion: The limited evidence suggests that Titmuss’ hypothesis of the economic inefficiency of incentives is correct. There is insufficient evidence to assess their likely impact on the quality of the blood provided.
blood donation; incentives; motivational crowding-out; behavioral economics; policy
E-cigarette companies and vendors claim the potential of e-cigarettes to help smokers reduce or quit tobacco use. E-cigarettes also have the potential to renormalise smoking. The purpose of this study was to describe the availability and in-store marketing of e-cigarettes in London, UK stores selling tobacco and alcohol.
Small and large stores selling alcohol and tobacco in London, UK.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The number of stores selling e-cigarettes, the number of stores with an interior or exterior e-cigarette advertisement, the number of stores with an e-cigarette point-of-sale movable display, store size, deprivation index score for store's corresponding lower super output area.
Audits were completed in 108 of 128 selected stores. 62 of the audited stores (57%) sold e-cigarettes. E-cigarette availability was unrelated to store size. There was a statistically non-significant trend towards increased availability in more deprived areas (p=0.069). 31 of the 62 stores (50%) selling e-cigarettes had a point-of-sale movable display, with all but one found in small stores. Two small stores had interior advertisements and eight had exterior advertisements. No advertisements were observed in large stores.
This audit revealed widespread availability of e-cigarettes and in-store marketing in London, UK. Even if e-cigarettes prove to be an effective cessation aid, their sale and use are resulting in an increasing public presence of cigarette-like images and smoking behaviour. After decades of work to denormalise smoking, these findings raise the question of whether e-cigarettes are renormalising smoking.
electronic cigarette; e-cigarette; point-of-sale marketing; store audits; tobacco industry; tobacco control policy
This paper explores whether and how the behavioral impact of genotype disclosure can be disentangled from the impact of numerical risk estimates generated by genetic tests. Secondary data analyses are presented from a randomized controlled trial of 162 first-degree relatives of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. Each participant received a lifetime risk estimate of AD. Control group estimates were based on age, gender, family history, and assumed ε4-negative apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype; intervention group estimates were based upon the first three variables plus true APOE genotype, which was also disclosed. AD-specific self-reported behavior change (diet, exercise, and medication use) was assessed at 12 months. Behavior change was significantly more likely with increasing risk estimates, and also more likely, but not significantly so, in ε4-positive intervention group participants (53% changed behavior) than in control group participants (31%). Intervention group participants receiving ε4-negative genotype feedback (24% changed behavior) and control group participants had similar rates of behavior change and risk estimates, the latter allowing assessment of the independent effects of genotype disclosure. However, collinearity between risk estimates and ε4-positive genotypes, which engender high-risk estimates, prevented assessment of the independent effect of the disclosure of an ε4 genotype. Novel study designs are proposed to determine whether genotype disclosure has an impact upon behavior beyond that of numerical risk estimates.
There is limited evidence regarding the factors that facilitate recruitment and retention of general practices in clinical trials. It is therefore pertinent to consider the factors that facilitate research in primary care.
To formulate hypotheses about effective ways of recruiting and retaining practices to clinical trials, based on a case study.
Design of study
Case study of practice recruitment and retention to a trial of delivering antenatal sickle cell and thalassaemia screening.
Two UK primary care trusts with 123 practices, with a high incidence of sickle cell and thalassaemia, and high levels of social deprivation.
Practices were invited to take part in the trial using a research information sheet for practices. Invitations were sent to all practice managers, GPs, practice nurses, and nurse practitioners. Expenses of approximately £3000 per practice were available. Practices and the research team signed research activity agreements, detailing a payment schedule based on deliverables. Semi-structured interviews were completed with 20 GPs who participated in the trial. Outcome measures were the number of practices recruited to, and completing, the trial.
Four practices did not agree to randomisation and were excluded. Of 119 eligible practices, 29 expressed an interest in participation. Two practices withdrew from the trial and 27 participated (two hosted pilot studies and 25 completed the trial), giving a retention rate of 93% (27/29). The 27 participating practices did not differ from non-participating practices in list size, number of GPs, social deprivation, or minority ethnic group composition of the practice population.
Three factors appeared important in recruiting practices: research topic, invitation method, and interest in research. Three factors appeared important in retaining practices: good communication, easy data-collection methods, and payment upon meeting pre-agreed targets. The effectiveness of these factors at facilitating recruitment and retention requires assessment in experimental studies.
clinical trials; primary health care; recruitment; retention
Antenatal sickle cell and thalassaemia screening sometimes occurs too late to allow couples a choice regarding termination of affected fetuses. The target gestational age for offering the test in the UK is 10 weeks.
To describe the proportion of women screened before 70 days' (10 weeks') gestation and the delay between pregnancy confirmation in primary care and antenatal sickle cell and thalassaemia screening.
Design of study
Cohort study of reported pregnancies.
Twenty-five general practices in two UK inner-city primary care trusts offering universal screening.
Anonymised data on all pregnancies reported to participating general practices was collected for a minimum of 6 months.
There were 1441 eligible women intending to proceed with their pregnancies, whose carrier status was not known. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) gestational age at pregnancy confirmation was 7.6 weeks (6.0–10.7 weeks) and 74% presented before 10 weeks. The median gestational age at screening was 15.3 weeks (IQR = 12.6–18.0 weeks), with only 4.4% being screened before 10 weeks. The median delay between pregnancy confirmation and screening was 6.9 weeks (4.7–9.3 weeks) After allowing for practice level variation, there was no association between delay times and maternal age, parity, and ethnic group.
About 74% of women consulted for pregnancy before 10 weeks' gestation but fewer than 5% of women were screened before the target time of 10 weeks. Reducing the considerable delay between pregnancy confirmation in primary care and antenatal sickle cell and thalassaemia screening requires methods of organising and delivering antenatal care that facilitate earlier screening to be developed and evaluated.
Anaemia; genetic screening; pregnancy; primary health care; sickle cell; thalassaemia
•Red and green labels have no significant effect on snack perceptions and choice.•Emoticon labels implying injunctive norms affect perceptions of health and taste.•Frowning emoticons may be more potent than smiling emoticons for certain foods.
Recent studies report that using green labels to denote healthier foods, and red to denote less healthy foods increases consumption of green- and decreases consumption of red-labelled foods. Other symbols (e.g. emoticons conveying normative approval and disapproval) could also be used to signal the healthiness and/or acceptability of consuming such products. The present study tested the combined effects of using emoticons and colours on labels amongst a nationally representative sample of the UK population (n = 955). In a 3 (emoticon expression: smiling vs. frowning vs. no emoticon) × 3 (colour label: green vs. red vs. white) ×2 (food option: chocolate bar vs. cereal bar) between-subjects experiment, participants rated the level of desirability, healthiness, tastiness, and calorific content of a snack bar they had been randomised to view. At the end they were further randomised to view one of nine possible combinations of colour and emoticon labels and asked to choose between a chocolate and a cereal bar. Regardless of label, participants rated the chocolate as tastier and more desirable when compared to the cereal bar, and the cereal bar as healthier than the chocolate bar. A series of interactions revealed that a frowning emoticon on a white background decreased perceptions of healthiness and tastiness of the cereal bar, but not the chocolate bar. In the explicit choice task selection was unaffected by label. Overall nutritional labels had limited effects on perceptions and no effects on choice of snack foods. Emoticon labels yielded stronger effects on perceptions of taste and healthiness of snacks than colour labels. Frowning emoticons may be more potent than smiling emoticons at influencing the perceived healthiness and tastiness of foods carrying health halos.
Nutritional labelling; Colour labelling; Emoticons; Injunctive norms
Swaps are often used to encourage healthier food choices, but there is little evidence of their effectiveness. The current study assessed the impact of offering swaps on groceries purchased within a bespoke online supermarket; specifically the objective was to measure the impact on energy density (ED) of food purchases following the offer of lower ED alternatives (a) at point of selection or at checkout, and (b) with or without explicit consent to receive swap prompts.
Participants were asked to complete a 12-item shopping task within an online shopping platform, developed for studying food purchasing. 1610 adults were randomly assigned to a no swap control condition or to one of four interventions: consented swaps at selection; consented swaps at checkout; imposed swaps at selection; or imposed swaps at checkout. Each swap presented two lower ED options from the same category as the participant’s chosen food. Swap acceptance rate and purchased food ED were the primary outcomes.
Of the mean 12.36 (SD 1.26) foods purchased, intervention participants were offered a mean of 4.1 (SD 1.68) swaps, with the potential to reduce the ED of purchased food (effect (95 % CI): −83 kJ/100 g (−110 – -56), p = <0.0001). A median of one swap (IQR 0 to 2) was accepted, not significantly reducing the purchased food ED (effect (95 % CI): −24 kJ/100 g (4 – -52), p = 0.094). More swaps were accepted when offered at selection than at checkout (OR (95 % CI) = 1.224 (1.11 – 1.35), p < 0.0001), but no differences were seen with consent. Purchased food ED was unaffected by point of swap or consent, but reduced with number of swaps accepted (effect per swap (95 % CI) = −24 kJ/100 g (−35 – -14), p < 0.0001).
Within category swaps did not reduce the ED of food purchases reflecting the observation that the use of swaps within an on-line shopping platform offered small potential gains in ED and a minority was accepted.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-015-0241-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Food choice; Prompt; Healthy food; Grocery shopping
Food tax-subsidy policies are proposed to hold promise for helping to produce healthier patterns of food purchasing and consumption at population level. Evidence for their effects derives largely from simulation studies that explore the potential effects of untried policies using a mathematical modelling framework. This paper provides a critique first of the nature of the evidence derived from such simulation studies, and second of the challenges of cumulating that evidence to inform public health policy.
Effects estimated by simulation studies of food taxes and subsidies can be expected to diverge in potentially important ways from those that would accrue in practice because these models are simplified, typically static, representations of complex adaptive systems. The level of confidence that can be placed in modelled estimates of effects is correspondingly low, and the level of associated uncertainty is high. Moreover, evidence from food tax-subsidy simulation studies cannot meaningfully be cumulated using currently available quantitative evidence synthesis methods, to reduce uncertainty about effects.
Simulation studies are critical for the initial phases of an incremental research process, for drawing together diverse evidence and exploring potential longer-term effects. While simulation studies of food taxes and subsidies provide a valuable and necessary input to the formulation of public health policy in this area, they are unlikely to be sufficient, and policy makers should not place excessive reliance on evidence from such studies, either singly or cumulatively. To reflect known and unknown limitations of the models, results of such studies should be interpreted cautiously as tentative projections. Modelling studies should increasingly be integrated with more empirical studies of the effects of food tax and subsidy policies in practice.
Food; Taxes; Subsidies; Public health; Policy; Mathematical model; Evidence synthesis; Meta-analysis as topic
Background: There is a growing concern, but limited evidence, that price promotions contribute to a poor diet and the social patterning of diet-related disease.
Objective: We examined the following questions: 1) Are less-healthy foods more likely to be promoted than healthier foods? 2) Are consumers more responsive to promotions on less-healthy products? 3) Are there socioeconomic differences in food purchases in response to price promotions?
Design: With the use of hierarchical regression, we analyzed data on purchases of 11,323 products within 135 food and beverage categories from 26,986 households in Great Britain during 2010. Major supermarkets operated the same price promotions in all branches. The number of stores that offered price promotions on each product for each week was used to measure the frequency of price promotions. We assessed the healthiness of each product by using a nutrient profiling (NP) model.
Results: A total of 6788 products (60%) were in healthier categories and 4535 products (40%) were in less-healthy categories. There was no significant gap in the frequency of promotion by the healthiness of products neither within nor between categories. However, after we controlled for the reference price, price discount rate, and brand-specific effects, the sales uplift arising from price promotions was larger in less-healthy than in healthier categories; a 1-SD point increase in the category mean NP score, implying the category becomes less healthy, was associated with an additional 7.7–percentage point increase in sales (from 27.3% to 35.0%; P < 0.01). The magnitude of the sales uplift from promotions was larger for higher–socioeconomic status (SES) groups than for lower ones (34.6% for the high-SES group, 28.1% for the middle-SES group, and 23.1% for the low-SES group). Finally, there was no significant SES gap in the absolute volume of purchases of less-healthy foods made on promotion.
Conclusion: Attempts to limit promotions on less-healthy foods could improve the population diet but would be unlikely to reduce health inequalities arising from poorer diets in low-socioeconomic groups.
food purchasing; Great Britain; price promotion; public health; public policy
Objective: Uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations by 17- to 18-year-old girls in England is below (<35%) target (80%). This trial assesses (a) the impact of financial incentives on uptake and completion of an HPV vaccination program, and (b) whether impacts are moderated by participants’ deprivation level. It also assesses the impact of incentives on decision quality to get vaccinated, as measured by attitudes toward the vaccination and knowledge of its consequences. Method: One thousand 16- to 18-year-old girls were invited to participate in an HPV vaccination program: 500 previously uninvited, and 500 unresponsive to previous invitations. Girls randomly received either a standard invitation letter or a letter including the offer of vouchers worth £45 (€56; $73) for undergoing 3 vaccinations. Girls attending their first vaccination appointment completed a questionnaire assessing decision quality to be vaccinated. Outcomes were uptake of the first and third vaccinations and decision quality. Results: The intervention increased uptake of the first (first-time invitees: 28.4% vs. 19.6%, odds ratio [OR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI; 1.08, 2.47]; previous nonattenders: 23.6% vs. 10.4%, OR = 2.65, 95% CI [1.61, 4.38]) and third (first-time invitees: 22.4% vs. 12%, OR = 2.15, 95% CI [1.32, 3.50]; previous nonattenders: 12.4% vs. 3%, OR = 4.28, 95% CI [1.92, 9.55]) vaccinations. Impacts were not moderated by deprivation level. Decision quality was unaffected by the intervention. Conclusions: Although the intervention increased completion of HPV vaccinations, uptake remained lower than the national target, which, in addition to cost effectiveness and acceptability issues, necessitates consideration of other ways of achieving it.
financial incentives; vouchers; HPV vaccination; human papillomavirus
•The study examined intake, implicit and explicit liking, and perceptions of fruit.•Lower SES males reported eating less fruit and lower implicit liking of fruit.•Results differed for explicit liking of fruit, however, with no differences by SES.•Social patterning was also seen in perceived satiety and value for money of fruit.•Neither liking nor perceptions of fruit mediated social patterning of fruit intake.
Background: Those of lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have less healthy diets than those of higher SES. This study aimed to assess whether differences in motivations for particular foods might contribute to socioeconomic differences in consumption. Methods: Participants (n = 732) rated their frequency of consumption and explicit liking of fruit, cake and cheese. They reported eating motivations (e.g., health, hunger, price) and related attributes of the investigated foods (healthiness, expected satiety, value for money). Participants were randomly assigned to an implicit liking task (Single Category Implicit Association Task) for one food category. Analyses were conducted separately for different SES measures (income, education, occupational group). Results: Lower SES and male participants reported eating less fruit, but no SES differences were found for cheese or cake. Analyses therefore focused on fruit. In implicit liking analyses, results (for income and education) reflected patterning in consumption, with lower SES and male participants liking fruit less. In explicit liking analyses, no differences were found by SES. Higher SES participants (all indicators) were more likely to report health and weight control and less likely report price as motivators of food choices. For perceptions of fruit, no SES-based differences were found in healthiness whilst significant interactions (but not main effects) were found (for income and education) for expected satiety and value for money. Neither liking nor perceptions of fruit were found to mediate the relationship between SES and frequency of fruit consumption. Conclusions: There is evidence for social patterning in food motivation, but differences are modified by the choice of implicit or explicit measures. Further work should clarify the extent to which these motivations may be contributing to the social and gender patterning in diet.
Socioeconomic status; Liking; Motivation; Fruit; Consumption
Despite the quickening momentum of genomic discovery, the communication, behavioral, and social sciences research needed for translating this discovery into public health applications has lagged behind. The National Human Genome Research Institute held a 2-day workshop in October 2008 convening an interdisciplinary group of scientists to recommend forward-looking priorities for translational research. This research agenda would be designed to redress the top three risk factors (tobacco use, poor diet, and physical inactivity) that contribute to the four major chronic diseases (heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lung disease, and many cancers) and account for half of all deaths worldwide. Three priority research areas were identified: (1) improving the public’s genetic literacy in order to enhance consumer skills; (2) gauging whether genomic information improves risk communication and adoption of healthier behaviors more than current approaches; and (3) exploring whether genomic discovery in concert with emerging technologies can elucidate new behavioral intervention targets. Important crosscutting themes also were identified, including the need to: (1) anticipate directions of genomic discovery; (2) take an agnostic scientific perspective in framing research questions asking whether genomic discovery adds value to other health promotion efforts; and (3) consider multiple levels of influence and systems that contribute to important public health problems. The priorities and themes offer a framework for a variety of stakeholders, including those who develop priorities for research funding, interdisciplinary teams engaged in genomics research, and policymakers grappling with how to use the products born of genomics research to address public health challenges.
Policies to use financial incentives to encourage healthy behaviour are controversial. Much of this controversy is played out in the mass media, both reflecting and shaping public opinion.
To describe UK mass media coverage of incentive schemes, comparing schemes targeted at different client groups and assessing the relative prominence of the views of different interest groups.
Thematic content analysis.
National and local news coverage in newspapers, news media targeted at health-care providers and popular websites between January 2005 and February 2010.
UK mass media.
The study included 210 articles. Fifteen separate arguments favourable towards schemes, and 19 unfavourable, were identified. Overall, coverage was more favourable than unfavourable, although most articles reported a mix of views. Arguments about the prevalence and seriousness of the health problems targeted by incentive schemes were uncontested. Moral and ethical objections to such schemes were common, focused in particular on recipients such as drug users or the overweight who were already stereotyped as morally deficient, and these arguments were largely uncontested. Arguments about the effectiveness of schemes and their potential for benefit or harm were areas of greater contestation. Government, public health and other health-care provider interests dominated favourable coverage; opposition came from rival politicians, taxpayers’ representatives, certain charities and from some journalists themselves.
Those promoting incentive schemes for people who might be regarded as ‘undeserving’ should plan a media strategy that anticipates their public reception.
conditional cash transfer; health incentives; mass media; public opinion; public response
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications have been shown to be effective in increasing smoking cessation rates. There is, however, a lack of good evidence describing how individuals in primary care use these medications and which factors are likely to affect this. The study objectives are to describe adherence and consumption, examine key factors that may determine use, and examine the relationship between consumption of NRT and abstinence from smoking.
Secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial conducted in smoking cessation services in primary care. Adult smokers (n = 633) starting a quit attempt within smoking cessation clinics were followed for 6 months, with NRT use closely monitored for an initial treatment period of 4 weeks. The main outcomes were 4-week adherence to prescribed NRT, mean daily consumption of NRT over the 4-week period, and abstinence from smoking at 4 weeks.
Levels of adherence to prescribed NRT were high: more than 94% in participants who completed the treatment period. After controlling for possible confounders, prescribing higher doses of patch and oral NRT was associated with higher mean daily consumption of NRT. Using an inhalator to deliver oral NRT was associated with both higher adherence and higher consumption. The amount of NRT consumed predicted future abstinence when reverse causation was accounted for.
Most individuals within a clinical trial in primary care who persisted with a quit attempt adhered closely to their prescription. Prescribing higher doses of NRT led to higher consumption and higher consumption to higher abstinence.
Public acceptability influences policy action, but the most acceptable policies are not always the most effective. This discrete choice experiment provides a novel investigation of the acceptability of different interventions to reduce alcohol consumption and the effect of information on expected effectiveness, using a UK general population sample of 1202 adults. Policy options included high, medium and low intensity versions of: Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol; reducing numbers of alcohol retail outlets; and regulating alcohol advertising. Outcomes of interventions were predicted for: alcohol-related crimes; alcohol-related hospital admissions; and heavy drinkers. First, the models obtained were used to predict preferences if expected outcomes of interventions were not taken into account. In such models around half of participants or more were predicted to prefer the status quo over implementing outlet reductions or higher intensity MUP. Second, preferences were predicted when information on expected outcomes was considered, with most participants now choosing any given intervention over the status quo. Acceptability of MUP interventions increased by the greatest extent: from 43% to 63% preferring MUP of £1 to the status quo. Respondents' own drinking behaviour also influenced preferences, with around 90% of non-drinkers being predicted to choose all interventions over the status quo, and with more moderate than heavy drinkers favouring a given policy over the status quo. Importantly, the study findings suggest public acceptability of alcohol interventions is dependent on both the nature of the policy and its expected effectiveness. Policy-makers struggling to mobilise support for hitherto unpopular but promising policies should consider giving greater prominence to their expected outcomes.
•Novel UK-representative study predicting the acceptability of alcohol interventions.•Acceptability varied by policy: regulating advertising was the most popular option.•Acceptability increased for all policies with information on expected effectiveness.•Information on expected effectiveness changed the order of preference for policies.
UK; Public acceptability; Alcohol; Health policy
In-store product placement is perceived to be a factor underpinning impulsive food purchasing but empirical evidence is limited. In this study we present the first in-depth estimate of the effect of end-of-aisle display on sales, focussing on alcohol. Data on store layout and product-level sales during 2010–11 were obtained for one UK grocery store, comprising detailed information on shelf space, price, price promotion and weekly sales volume in three alcohol categories (beer, wine, spirits) and three non-alcohol categories (carbonated drinks, coffee, tea). Multiple regression techniques were used to estimate the effect of end-of-aisle display on sales, controlling for price, price promotion, and the number of display locations for each product. End-of-aisle display increased sales volumes in all three alcohol categories: by 23.2% (p = 0.005) for beer, 33.6% (p < 0.001) for wine, and 46.1% (p < 0.001) for spirits, and for three non-alcohol beverage categories: by 51.7% (p < 0.001) for carbonated drinks, 73.5% (p < 0.001) for coffee, and 113.8% (p < 0.001) for tea. The effect size was equivalent to a decrease in price of between 4% and 9% per volume for alcohol categories, and a decrease in price of between 22% and 62% per volume for non-alcohol categories. End-of-aisle displays appear to have a large impact on sales of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages. Restricting the use of aisle ends for alcohol and other less healthy products might be a promising option to encourage healthier in-store purchases, without affecting availability or cost of products.
•An estimated 30% of supermarket sales come from aisle-ends, providing an impetus to evaluate the influence of such locations.•This novel analysis within one UK store suggested that placing beverages in end-of-aisle locations uplifts sales sharply.•This sales uplift was larger for non-alcoholic beverages (by 52–114%) than for alcoholic beverages (by 23–46%).•Restricting aisle-end displays of alcohol or sugar-sweetened beverages may be as effective as some pricing interventions.•Although currently limited to product-level effects, this initial evidence highlights the influence of aisle-end displays.
United Kingdom; Alcohol; Non-alcoholic beverages; End-of-aisle display; Grocery store; Primary prevention
The use of financial incentives for changing health-related behaviours raises concerns regarding their potential to undermine the processing of risks associated with incentivised behaviours. Uncertainty remains about the validity of such concerns. This web-based experiment assessed the impact of financial incentives on i) willingness to take a pill with side-effects; ii) the time spent viewing risk-information and iii) risk-information processing, assessed by perceived-risk of taking the pill and knowledge of its side-effects. It further assesses whether effects are moderated by limiting cognitive capacity. Two-hundred and seventy-five UK-based university staff and students were recruited online under the pretext of being screened for a fictitious drug-trial. Participants were randomised to the offer of different compensation levels for taking a fictitious pill (£0; £25; £1000) and the presence or absence of a cognitive load task (presentation of five digits for later recall). Willingness to take the pill increased with the offer of £1000 (84% vs. 67%; OR 3.66, CI 95% 1.27–10.6), but not with the offer of £25 (79% vs. 67%; OR 1.68, CI 95% 0.71–4.01). Risk-information processing was unaffected by the offer of incentives. The time spent viewing the risk-information was affected by the offer of incentives, an effect moderated by cognitive load: Without load, time increased with the value of incentives (£1000: M = 304.4sec vs. £0: M = 37.8sec, p < 0.001; £25: M = 66.6sec vs. £0: M = 37.8sec, p < 0.001). Under load, time decreased with the offer of incentives (£1000: M = 48.9sec vs. £0: M = 132.7sec, p < 0.001; £25: M = 60.9sec vs. £0: M = 132.7sec, p < 0.001), but did not differ between the two incentivised groups (p = 1.00). This study finds no evidence to suggest incentives “crowd out” risk-information processing. On the contrary, incentives appear to signal risk, an effect, however, which disappears under cognitive load. Although these findings require replication, they highlight the need to maximise cognitive capacity when presenting information about incentivised health-related behaviours.
•Concerns exist that health incentives undermine risk-information processing.•We assessed these concerns in the context of taking a pill with side-effects.•Financial incentives did not undermine the processing of risk-information.•Incentives increased risk-information viewing time, implying a cautionary effect.•This cautionary effect disappeared under cognitive load.
Financial incentives; Risk-information; Side-effects; Risks; Pill-taking; Health incentives; Medication adherence
Objective: To review existing evidence on the potential of incentives to undermine or “crowd out” intrinsic motivation, in order to establish whether and when it predicts financial incentives to crowd out motivation for health-related behaviors. Method: We conducted a conceptual analysis to compare definitions and operationalizations of the effect, and reviewed existing evidence to identify potential moderators of the effect. Results: In the psychological literature, we find strong evidence for an undermining effect of tangible rewards on intrinsic motivation for simple tasks when motivation manifest in behavior is initially high. In the economic literature, evidence for undermining effects exists for a broader variety of behaviors, in settings that involve a conflict of interest between parties. By contrast, for health related behaviors, baseline levels of incentivized behaviors are usually low, and only a subset involve an interpersonal conflict of interest. Correspondingly, we find no evidence for crowding out of incentivized health behaviors. Conclusion: The existing evidence does not warrant a priori predictions that an undermining effect would be found for health-related behaviors. Health-related behaviors and incentives schemes differ greatly in moderating characteristics, which should be the focus of future research.
incentives; health behavior; motivation; motivation crowding out; review
The idea that behaviour can be influenced at population level by altering the environments within which people make choices (choice architecture) has gained traction in policy circles. However, empirical evidence to support this idea is limited, especially its application to changing health behaviour. We propose an evidence-based definition and typology of choice architecture interventions that have been implemented within small-scale micro-environments and evaluated for their effects on four key sets of health behaviours: diet, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco use.
We argue that the limitations of the evidence base are due not simply to an absence of evidence, but also to a prior lack of definitional and conceptual clarity concerning applications of choice architecture to public health intervention. This has hampered the potential for systematic assessment of existing evidence. By seeking to address this issue, we demonstrate how our definition and typology have enabled systematic identification and preliminary mapping of a large body of available evidence for the effects of choice architecture interventions. We discuss key implications for further primary research, evidence synthesis and conceptual development to support the design and evaluation of such interventions.
This conceptual groundwork provides a foundation for future research to investigate the effectiveness of choice architecture interventions within micro-environments for changing health behaviour. The approach we used may also serve as a template for mapping other under-explored fields of enquiry.
Choice architecture; Nudge; Nudging; Behaviour change; Health behaviour
Aims: In 2011, online marketing became the largest marketing channel in the UK, overtaking television for the first time. This study aimed to describe the exposure of children and young adults to alcohol marketing on social media websites in the UK. Methods: We used commercially available data on the three most used social media websites among young people in the UK, from December 2010 to May 2011. We analysed by age (6–14 years; 15–24 years) and gender the reach (proportion of internet users who used the site in each month) and impressions (number of individual pages viewed on the site in each month) for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We further analysed case studies of five alcohol brands to assess the marketer-generated brand content available on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in February and March 2012. Results: Facebook was the social media site with the highest reach, with an average monthly reach of 89% of males and 91% of females aged 15–24. YouTube had a similar average monthly reach while Twitter had a considerably lower usage in the age groups studied. All five of the alcohol brands studied maintained a Facebook page, Twitter page and YouTube channel, with varying levels of user engagement. Facebook pages could not be accessed by an under-18 user, but in most cases YouTube content and Twitter content could be accessed by those of all ages. Conclusion: The rise in online marketing of alcohol and the high use of social media websites by young people suggests that this is an area requiring further monitoring and regulation.
Increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables is a central component of improving population health. Reasons people give for choosing one food over another suggest health is of lower importance than taste. This study assesses the impact of using a simple descriptive label to highlight the taste as opposed to the health value of fruit on the likelihood of its selection. Participants (N=439) were randomly allocated to one of five groups that varied in the label added to an apple: apple; healthy apple; succulent apple; healthy and succulent apple; succulent and healthy apple. The primary outcome measure was selection of either an apple or a chocolate bar as a dessert. Measures of the perceived qualities of the apple (taste, health, value, quality, satiety) and of participant characteristics (restraint, belief that tasty foods are unhealthy, BMI) were also taken. When compared with apple selection without any descriptor (50%), the labels combining both health and taste descriptors significantly increased selection of the apple (’healthy & succulent’ 65.9% and ‘succulent & healthy’ 62.4%), while the use of a single descriptor had no impact on the rate of apple selection (‘healthy’ 50.5% and ‘succulent’ 52%). The strongest predictors of individual dessert choice were the taste score given to the apple, and the lack of belief that healthy foods are not tasty. Interventions that emphasize the taste attributes of healthier foods are likely to be more effective at achieving healthier diets than those emphasizing health alone.