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
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.
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.
Unhealthy diet and low levels of physical activity are common behavioural factors in the aetiology of many non-communicable diseases. Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of policy and research interest in the use of taxes and other economic instruments to improve population health.
To assemble, configure and analyse empirical research studies available to inform the public health case for using economic instruments to promote dietary and physical activity behaviour change.
We conducted a systematic scoping review of evidence for the effects of specific interventions to change, or general exposure to variations in, prices or income on dietary and physical activity behaviours and corollary outcomes. Systematic electronic searches and parallel snowball searches retrieved >1 million study records. Text mining technologies were used to prioritise title-abstract records for screening. Eligible studies were selected, classified and analysed in terms of key characteristics and principal findings, using a narrative, configuring synthesis focused on implications for policy and further research.
We identified 880 eligible studies, including 192 intervention studies and 768 studies that incorporated evidence for prices or income as correlates or determinants of target outcomes. Current evidence for the effects of economic instruments and exposures on diet and physical activity is limited in quality and equivocal in terms of its policy implications. Direct evidence for the effects of economic instruments is heavily skewed towards impacts on diet, with a relative lack of evidence for impacts on physical activity.
The evidence-based case for using economic instruments to promote dietary and physical activity behaviour change may be less compelling than some proponents have claimed. Future research should include measurement of people’s actual behavioural responses using study designs capable of generating reliable causal inferences regarding intervention effects. Policy implementation needs to be carefully aligned with evaluation planning and design.
Low levels of physical activity are a major public health concern, and interventions to promote physical activity have had limited success. Whether or not personalised feedback about physical activity following objective measurement motivates behaviour change has yet to be rigorously examined.
And Findings: In a parallel group, open randomised controlled trial, 466 healthy adults aged 32 to 54 years were recruited from the ongoing population-based Fenland Study (Cambridgeshire, UK). Participants were randomised to receive either no feedback until the end of the trial (control group, n=120) or one of three different types of feedback: simple, visual, or contextualised (intervention groups, n=346). The primary outcome was physical activity (physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) in kJ/kg/day and average body acceleration (ACC) in m/s2) measured objectively using a combined heart rate monitor and accelerometer (Actiheart®). The main secondary outcomes included self-reported physical activity, intention to increase physical activity, and awareness of physical activity (the agreement between self-rated and objectively measured physical activity). At 8 weeks, 391 (83.9%) participants had complete physical activity data. The intervention had no effect on objectively measured physical activity (PAEE: β=-0.92, 95% CI=-3.50 to 1.66, p=0.48 and ACC: β=0.01, 95% CI=-0.00 to 0.02, p=0.21), self-reported physical activity (β=-0.39, 95% CI=-1.59 to 0.81), or intention to increase physical activity (β=-0.05, 95% CI=-0.22 to 0.11). However, it was associated with an increase in awareness of physical activity (OR=1.74, 95% CI=1.05 to 2.89). Results did not differ according to the type of feedback.
Personalised feedback about physical activity following objective measurement increased awareness but did not result in changes in physical activity in the short term. Measurement and feedback may have a role in promoting behaviour change but are ineffective on their own.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN92551397 http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN92551397
To assess the effectiveness of health screening interventions aimed at enhancing informed choice.
Studies were selected if (1) they were randomized controlled trials conducted between January 1, 2000, and March 30, 2010, (2) participants in one arm underwent a prescreening intervention aimed at improving informed choice, and (3) informed choice was the primary outcome.
Eight studies that met the inclusion criteria involved screening for prostate, colorectal and breast cancer, and diabetes. Five of the 8 prescreening interventions led to greater informed choice.
With researchers mindful of the limited number of studies, findings were encouraging, but conclusions regarding the most effective ways of facilitating informed choice for screening are at best tentative.
prescreening interventions; health screening; randomized control trials; informed choice; systematic review
Socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health outcomes are well-recognised, but are not fully explained by observational studies of consumption. We provide a novel analysis to identify purchasing patterns more precisely, based on data for take-home food and beverage purchases from 25,674 British households in 2010. To examine socioeconomic differences (measured by occupation), we conducted regression analyses on the proportion of energy purchased from (a) each of 43 food or beverage categories and (b) major nutrients. Results showed numerous small category-level socioeconomic differences. Aggregation of the categories showed lower SES groups generally purchased a greater proportion of energy from less healthy foods and beverages than those in higher SES groups (65% and 60%, respectively), while higher SES groups purchased a greater proportion of energy from healthier food and beverages (28% vs. 24%). At the nutrient-level, socioeconomic differences were less marked, although higher SES was associated with purchasing greater proportions of fibre, protein and total sugars, and smaller proportions of sodium. The observed pattern of purchasing across SES groups contributes to the explanation of observed health differences between groups and highlights targets for interventions to reduce health inequalities.
•We give a novel, detailed account of purchasing by SES in 25,000 British households.•Lower SES groups purchased a greater proportion of less healthy food and drink.•Higher SES groups purchased proportionally more high-fat dairy and alcohol.•Overall, SES differences were less marked for nutrients than for food groups.•We highlight food groups to target for interventions to reduce health inequalities.
Britain; Socioeconomic status; Diet; Purchasing; Scanner data; Attitudes; Health inequalities
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
Governments can intervene to change health-related behaviours using various measures but are sensitive to public attitudes towards such interventions. This review describes public attitudes towards a range of policy interventions aimed at changing tobacco and alcohol use, diet, and physical activity, and the extent to which these attitudes vary with characteristics of (a) the targeted behaviour (b) the intervention and (c) the respondents.
We searched electronic databases and conducted a narrative synthesis of empirical studies that reported public attitudes in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand towards interventions relating to tobacco, alcohol, diet and physical activity. Two hundred studies met the inclusion criteria.
Over half the studies (105/200, 53%) were conducted in North America, with the most common interventions relating to tobacco control (110/200, 55%), followed by alcohol (42/200, 21%), diet-related interventions (18/200, 9%), interventions targeting both diet and physical activity (18/200, 9%), and physical activity alone (3/200, 2%). Most studies used survey-based methods (160/200, 80%), and only ten used experimental designs.
Acceptability varied as a function of: (a) the targeted behaviour, with more support observed for smoking-related interventions; (b) the type of intervention, with less intrusive interventions, those already implemented, and those targeting children and young people attracting most support; and (c) the characteristics of respondents, with support being highest in those not engaging in the targeted behaviour, and with women and older respondents being more likely to endorse more restrictive measures.
Public acceptability of government interventions to change behaviour is greatest for the least intrusive interventions, which are often the least effective, and for interventions targeting the behaviour of others, rather than the respondent him or herself. Experimental studies are needed to assess how the presentation of the problem and the benefits of intervention might increase acceptability for those interventions which are more effective but currently less acceptable.
Health behaviour; Attitude; Public opinion; Policy
Previous studies have shown that estimations of the calorie content of an unhealthy main meal food tend to be lower when the food is shown alongside a healthy item (e.g. fruit or vegetables) than when shown alone. This effect has been called the negative calorie illusion and has been attributed to averaging the unhealthy (vice) and healthy (virtue) foods leading to increased perceived healthiness and reduced calorie estimates. The current study aimed to replicate and extend these findings to test the hypothesized mediating effect of ratings of healthiness of foods on calorie estimates.
In three online studies, participants were invited to make calorie estimates of combinations of foods. Healthiness ratings of the food were also assessed.
The first two studies failed to replicate the negative calorie illusion. In a final study, the use of a reference food, closely following a procedure from a previously published study, did elicit a negative calorie illusion. No evidence was found for a mediating role of healthiness estimates.
The negative calorie illusion appears to be a function of the contrast between a food being judged and a reference, supporting the hypothesis that the negative calorie illusion arises from the use of a reference-dependent anchoring and adjustment heuristic and not from an ‘averaging’ effect, as initially proposed. This finding is consistent with existing data on sequential calorie estimates, and highlights a significant impact of the order in which foods are viewed on how foods are evaluated.
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
Smoking during pregnancy and in the postnatal period is a major cause of low birth weight and a range of adverse infant health outcomes. Stop smoking services can double quit rates, but only 17% of pregnant women smoking at the time they book for antenatal care use these services. In a recent Cochrane review on the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in pregnancy, financial incentives were found to be the single most effective intervention. We describe a single arm intervention study offering participation in a financial incentive scheme for smoking cessation to all pregnant smokers receiving antenatal care in one area in England. The aim of the study is to assess the potential effectiveness of using financial incentives to achieve smoking cessation in pregnant women who smoke, to inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies.
500 consecutive pregnant smokers are offered participation in the scheme, which involves attending for up to 32 assessments until six months post-partum, to verify smoking cessation by self report and a negative exhaled carbon monoxide measurement. At each visit when cessation is verified, participants receive a shopping voucher starting at a value of £8 and increasing by £1 at each consecutive successful visit. Assessments decline in frequency, occurring most frequently during the first two weeks after quitting and the first two weeks after delivery. The maximum cumulative total that can be earned through the scheme is £752.
The results of this study will inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies. The main results are (a) an estimate of the proportion of pregnant smokers who enrol in the scheme; (b) estimates of the proportion of pregnant smokers who participate in the scheme and who achieve prolonged abstinence at: i. delivery and ii. six months postpartum; (c) predictors of i. participation in the scheme, and ii. smoking cessation; and (d) estimates of the adverse effects of using incentives to achieve quitting as indexed by: i. the delay in quitting smoking to enrol in an incentive scheme and, ii. false reporting of smoking status, either to gain entry into the scheme or to gain an incentive.
Smoking cessation; Financial incentives; Pregnancy; Vouchers
Governments sometimes face important decisions in the absence of direct evidence. In these cases, expert elicitation methods can be used to quantify uncertainty. We report the results of an expert elicitation study regarding the likely impact on smoking rates in adults and children of plain packaging of tobacco products.
Thirty-three tobacco control experts were recruited from the UK (n = 14), Australasia (n = 12) and North America (n = 7). Experts’ estimates were individually elicited via telephone interviews, and then linearly pooled. Elicited estimates consisted of (1) the most likely, (2) the highest possible, and (3) the lowest possible value for the percentage of (a) adult smokers and (b) children trying smoking, two years after the introduction of plain packaging (all other things being constant) in a target country in the expert’s region of residence.
The median estimate for the impact on adult smoking prevalence was a 1 percentage point decline (99% range 2.25 to 0), and for the percentage of children trying smoking was a 3 percentage point decline (99% range 6.1 to 0), the latter estimated impact being larger than the former (P < 0.001, sign test). There were no differences in either estimate by region (I2: Adults: 0; Children: 0) but there was considerable variability between experts’ estimates within regions (I2: Adults: 0.91; Children: 0.89).
In the absence of direct evidence for the impact of introducing plain packaging on smoking rates in adults and children, this study shows that tobacco control experts felt the most likely outcomes would be a reduction in smoking prevalence in adults, and a greater reduction in the numbers of children trying smoking, although there was substantial variability in the estimated size of these impacts. No experts judged an increase in smoking as a likely outcome.
Tobacco; Plain packaging; Expert elicitation
The use of financial incentives to change health-related behaviour is often opposed by members of the public. We investigated whether the acceptability of incentives is influenced by their effectiveness, the form the incentive takes, and the particular behaviour targeted. We conducted discrete choice experiments, in 2010 with two samples (n = 81 and n = 101) from a self-selected online panel, and in 2011 with an offline general population sample (n = 450) of UK participants to assess the acceptability of incentive-based treatments for smoking cessation and weight loss. We focused on the extent to which this varied with the type of incentive (cash, vouchers for luxury items, or vouchers for healthy groceries) and its effectiveness (ranging from 5% to 40% compared to a standard treatment with effectiveness fixed at 10%). The acceptability of financial incentives increased with effectiveness. Even a small increase in effectiveness from 10% to 11% increased the proportion favouring incentives from 46% to 55%. Grocery vouchers were more acceptable than cash or vouchers for luxury items (about a 20% difference), and incentives were more acceptable for weight loss than for smoking cessation (60% vs. 40%). The acceptability of financial incentives to change behaviour is not necessarily negative but rather is contingent on their effectiveness, the type of incentive and the target behaviour.
► Effectiveness of incentive schemes for healthier behaviour increased their acceptability, in studies conducted with UK participants. ► Even a small increase of effectiveness, from 10% to 11%, increased acceptability. ► Grocery vouchers were better accepted than cash or luxury item vouchers. ► Incentives were better accepted for weight loss than for smoking cessation.
UK; Health incentives; Acceptability; Public policy
Haemoglobinopathies, including sickle cell disease and thalassaemia (SCT), are inherited disorders of haemoglobin. Antenatal screening for SCT rarely occurs before 10 weeks of pregnancy.
To explore the cost-effectiveness of offering SCT screening in a primary care setting, during the pregnancy confirmation visit.
Design and setting
A model-based cost-effectiveness analysis of inner-city areas with a high proportion of residents from ethnic minority groups.
Comparison was made of three SCT screening approaches: ‘primary care parallel’ (primary care screening with test offered to mother and father together); ‘primary care sequential (primary care screening with test offered to the mother and then the father only if the mother is a carrier); and ‘midwife care’ (sequential screening at the first midwife consultation). The model was populated with data from the SHIFT (Screening for Haemoglobinopathies In First Trimester) trial and other sources.
Compared to midwife care, primary care sequential had a higher NHS cost of £34 000 per 10 000 pregnancies (95% confidence interval [CI] = £15 000 to £51 000) and an increase of 2623 women screened (95% CI: 1359 to 4495), giving a cost per additional woman screened by 10 weeks of £13. Primary care parallel was dominated by primary care sequential, with both higher costs and fewer women screened.
The policy judgement is whether an earlier opportunity for informed reproductive choice has a value of at least £13. Further work is required to understand the value attached to earlier informed reproductive choices.
antenatal diagnosis; cost effectiveness; hemoglobin S disease; primary care; thalassemia
Continuing developments in genetic testing technology together with research revealing gene-disease associations have brought closer the potential for genetic screening of populations. A major concern, as with any screening programme, is the response of the patient to the findings of screening, whether the outcome is positive or negative. Such concern is heightened for genetic testing, which it is feared may elicit stronger reactions than non-genetic testing.
This paper draws on thematic analysis of 113 semi-structured interviews with 39 patients being tested for familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited predisposition to early-onset heart disease. It examines the impact of disease risk assessments based on both genetic and non-genetic information, or solely non-genetic information.
The impact of diagnostic testing did not seem to vary according to whether or not genetic information was used. More generally, being given a positive or negative diagnosis of FH had minimal discernible impact on people's lives as they maintained the continuity of their beliefs and behaviour.
The results suggest that concerns about the use of genetic testing in this context are unfounded, a conclusion that echoes findings from studies in this and other health contexts.
Behaviour change; Genetics; Genetic testing; Health behaviour; Risk; Qualitative