Effects of financial incentives on motivating physical activity among older adults: results from a discrete choice experiment.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: There is extensive evidence that regular physical activity confers numerous health benefits. Despite this, high rates of physical inactivity prevail among older adults. This study aimed to ascertain if incentives could be effective in motivating physical activity through improving uptake of walking programs, either with or without an enrolment fee to cover corresponding costs. METHODS: A discrete-choice conjoint survey was fielded to a national sample of older adults in Singapore. Each respondent was given ten pairs of hypothetical walking programs and asked to choose the option they preferred. Each option varied along several dimensions, including the level and type (cash, voucher, or health savings credit) of incentive and an enrolment fee. For each option, they were asked how likely they would be to join their preferred program. A random utility model (RUM) was used to analyze the responses. RESULTS: Results suggest that a free 6-month program with a $500 cash incentive would generate enrolment rates of 58.5%; charging $50 to enroll lowers this to 55.7%. In terms of incentive type, cash payments were the most preferred incentive but not significantly different from supermarket vouchers. Both were preferred to health savings credits and sporting goods vouchers. Concerns of adverse selection were minimal because those who were inactive represented at least 72% of new participants for any offered program(s) and were the majority. CONCLUSIONS: Study results demonstrate the potential for even modest incentives to increase program uptake among inactive older adults. Moreover, although cash was the most preferred option, supermarket vouchers, which could potentially be purchased at a discount, were a close alternative. Results also suggest that an enrolment fee is a viable option to offset the costs of incentives as it has only minimal impact on participation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Farooqui, MA; Tan, Y-T; Bilger, M; Finkelstein, EA

Published Date

  • January 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 /

Start / End Page

  • 141 -

PubMed ID

  • 24512102

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24512102

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2458

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1471-2458

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/1471-2458-14-141


  • eng