Source: LDI eMagazine, January 3, 2017
The University of Pennsylvania LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics' 2016 Behavioral Economics and Health Symposium was both a spotlight on the latest research work as well as the conclusion of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Donaghue Foundation funded program that began seven years ago. CHIBE played a lead role in the initiative whose goal was to explore the ways behavioral economics principles might be applied to health-related behaviors.
Source: Devex, November 23, 2016
CHIBE's George Loewenstein was interviewed by global development media platform, Devex, on his research on information avoidance, wherein individuals choose not to know information even though it is free and could improve their decision-making. Loewenstein describes how information avoidance can explain poor choices, and how this knowledge can be used to inform development policy.
Information avoidance can also offer insight into increasingly polarized views on science. Loewenstein told Devex that "as science develops and new forms of data and data analysis capabilities emerge, you might think this would lead to convergence about scientific issues, but it’s not happening. If anything, the opposite is true."
Source: Penn LDI eMagazine, November 2, 2016
On October 27 and 28, 2016, CHIBE held its ninth and largest-ever retreat of scientists collaborating through its ongoing NIH P30 Center of Excellence Roybal research program. The Penn-CMU Roybal Center is a partnership between the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) at the Leonard Davis Institute and CMU's Center for Behavioral and Decision Research (CBDR). Also attending were affiliated scientists from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, NYU, Fordham, Rutgers and Case Western.
In a study published in the Journal of Health Economics this year, George Loewenstein, Joseph Price and Kevin Volpp presented findings from a field experiment testing whether short-run incentives can create habit formation in children. Over a 3- or 5-week period, students received an incentive for eating a serving of fruits or vegetables during lunch. The study found that providing small incentives doubled the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Two months after the end of the intervention, the consumption rate at schools remained 21% above baseline for the 3-week treatment and 44% above baseline for the 5-week treatment. These findings indicate that short-run incentives can produce changes in behavior that persist after incentives are removed.
The New York Times profiled CHIBE's study, "Advance Ordering for Healthier Eating? Field Experiments on the Relationship Between the Meal Order–Consumption Time Delay and Meal Content," recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research.
CHIBE Postdoctoral Fellow Eric VanEpps told the Times, "If a decision is going to be implemented immediately, we just care about the immediate consequences, and we discount the long-term costs and benefits. In the case of food, we care about what’s happening right now – like how tasty it is – but discount the long-term costs of an unhealthy meal.”
A recent study published in the the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing by CHIBE Postdoctoral Fellow Eric VanEpps and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, involving online workplace lunch orders, found that each of three types of calorie labeling conditions – numbers alone, traffic lights alone, or both labels together – reduced calories ordered by about 10 percent, compared to orders involving no calorie labels. “The similar effects of traffic light and numeric labeling suggests to us that consumers are making decisions based more on which choices seem healthier than on absolute calorie numbers,” VanEpps said.
George Loewenstein was quoted in a New York Times article about steps for avoiding public hysteria during the Ebola crisis. He offers that “the system often flips from one extreme to another, from ignoring risks altogether and then overreacting.”
In a feature article in BMJ, Kevin Volpp says there is "increased interest in both public and private sectors in using incentives to increase healthy behaviours” and reveals the key components of a successful financial incentive scheme: "simplicity, saliency, and relatively immediate feedback.” The article also cites research conduced by Volpp and colleagues that showed a significant rise in participation in health risk assessments when financial incentives in the form of a lottery were offered.
Source: CNN, September 26, 2013
A study published in the Journal of Health Economics found that only 14% of people that were polled could identify basic health terms. They study's author, George Loewenstein, commented on why this is a huge issue, stating "we know from other research that people make disastrously bad insurance choices because they don't understand this basic language."
Source: New York Times, January 10, 2013
In a recent op-ed by New York Times columnist David Brooks on the importance of behavioral economic approaches to informing public policy, work by CHIBE researchers Kevin Volpp, George Loewenstein and Leslie John in contributing to a recent the book on the behavioral foundations of public policy was highlighted with description of a weight loss study we conducted that was published in JAMA in which people trying to lose weight were made eligible for daily sweepstakes and lost three times as much weight as those who were in a control group.
David Asch, Kevin Volpp and George Loewenstein authored a JAMA Viewpoint article entitled "Choosing Wisely: Low-Value Services, Utilization and Patient Cost Sharing" The article follows the launch of the "Choosing Wisely" initiative which identifies procedures and tests that add little value and may be unnecessary or even cause harm. The authors suggest that the "value-based" strategies that have been proposed to discourage the use of low-value services could be designed more effectively by incorporating insights from psychology and behavioral economics.
Kevin Volpp's HRA lottery incentive study is highlighted to show that wellness programs are effective in boosting employee performance. He notes that the most important finding in the study is that the design of an incentive program makes a really big difference on how effective that program is.
George Loewenstein and Kevin Volpp were tapped to comment in an overview article about the use and efficacy of different types of incentives to help people lose weight, including deposit contracts, lotteries, negative incentives, and direct incentives. The piece mentioned their collaborative work testing financial incentives to motivate weight loss among veterans.
Source: Reuters, February 8, 2011
CHIBE researcher Leslie John was interviewed about a Journal of General Internal Medicine article describing a study she lead with co-investigators George Loewenstein, Andrea Troxel, Kevin Volpp and others that compared incentive-based weight loss interventions in obese U.S. veterans. According to John, "people respond more readily to the immediate threat of losing money compared to the distant threat of weight-related health problems." More research is needed to see if weight loss can be sustained over a longer period of time and if the intervention can be implemented in the real world.
In research by Sunita Sah and and CHIBE Associate Director George Loewenstein published in the September 15, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, three groups of medical residents received different online surveys. Among the physicians who were reminded of the sacrifices made in obtaining their medical education, twice as many deemed industry gifts acceptable in comparison to the control group. Among the medical residents who were exposed to a suggested rationalization for accepting industry gifts, the number who perceived gifts to be acceptable rose to 60.3%, despite the majority reporting that they disagreed with the rationalization. Lowenstein, in comments to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, noted that, given the documented increases industry gifts have on prescribing and the "remarkable human ability to rationalize when inducements are high enough,” such conflicts of interest ought to be eliminated.
In a wide-ranging interview on the radio program Good Health is Good Business, LDI CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp discusses the application of health incentives in the real world, the need for more research to define the best structures for programs, and the related work of CHIBE investigators George Lowenstein and Scott Halpern.
Source: New York Times, July 14, 2010
Renowned behavioral economists George Loewenstein and Peter Ubel discuss in an op-ed how behavioral economics can help to improve our understanding of how individuals might react to policies meant to improve the greater good, but, they explain, the field does not encompass fixing the root of the large social problems it is increasingly being called on to address.
Aditi Sen, Kevin Volpp, and George Lowenstein provide guidance to benefits plan managers about health incentive programs and discuss future research needs. The researchers note, “The optimal design, amount and duration of incentives need further research, but insights from behavioral economics regarding how people make decisions and value present and future risks and rewards offer suggestions for how to make these incentives most effective. When well-designed, incentives exploit the very decision-making tendencies that often make unhealthy behavior seem attractive”
George Loewenstein and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon question the basis for the interest among state governments and federal health reformers about mandating the posting of calorie information in restaurants.
We are pleased to announce that the Center was a recipient of one of 12 Roybal Center awards in 2009 from the National Institute on Aging (Volpp PI, Loewenstein Co-PI). The Roybal Centers Program was established to translate promising social and behavioral basic research findings into programs, tools, practices and policies that will improve the lives of older adults. The aims of the Penn-CMU Roybal Center on Behavioral Economics and Health will be to leverage resources to advance translation of behavioral economic concepts to improve health behaviors and health care delivery and work with public and private sector entities to design and test scalable interventions and disseminate findings. Please stay tuned for new pilot project solicitations in the coming years as well as information about other new programs.