January 18, 2019 – Incentivizing Healthy Choices


Anchor lead: Even paying people to make more healthful choices may not work, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Paying people who are at risk to develop diabetes, are overweight or who smoke cigarettes to make lifestyle changes to reduce their health risks didn’t work, a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found. Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, says these choices are difficult to impact, and paying or incentivizing people is just one tool.

Davidson: These are just not physical problems. These are psychological and social problems. Social problems are health problems. I think incentivizing people to lose weight, stop smoking, really fails to address the real reason why people do these things. This is often very driven by biological processes around pleasure seeking that become very socialized. These issues are much more complex than anybody ever thought about.   :30

Davidson thinks incentives plus personalized approaches are most likely to result in success. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.