CHIBE in the News

STAT: End-of-life decisions can be difficult. This doctor thinks ‘nudges’ can help

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For tax payments, “nudges” have helped municipalities increase revenues and decrease collection-related costs. For energy consumption, “nudges” have helped homeowners save money and utilities preserve capacity. But in health care, the technique has been slower to catch on. First described by the pioneering economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (who is also a legal scholar), a “nudge” is a way of framing a set of choices to essentially steer people toward a particular option without shutting out other options. Dr. Scott Halpern, a critical care physician at University of Pennsylvania who studies the ethics and effectiveness of nudges in health…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Can a $55 water bottle prevent kidney stones? Penn and CHOP aim to find out.

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Armed with a big federal grant, Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are teaming up to prevent kidney stones, an excruciatingly painful condition that is increasing in both adults and children. Along with three other institutions, they’ll be part of a clinical trial testing whether a $55 “smart” water bottle that sends data on how much users drink to a phone app, plus financial incentives, can keep people of all ages who’ve had one kidney stone from getting another one. “The goal of this grant is to look at kidney stones as a disease that can occur over a…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. families appear to embrace tougher school vaccination rules

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It took many an email, copious notices snail-mailed home, and robo-calls aplenty, not to mention some thinly veiled threats of turning away unvaccinated kids from school. But education and health officials around Pennsylvania say that, for the most part, families appear to be rising to the challenge of earlier, stricter deadlines for getting students immunized. “At this time, school districts and school nurses are doing a great job of coordinating with parents and asking for resources when needed,” said state health department spokeswoman April Hutcheson. No new immunization numbers have been tallied yet, but officials say the rules seem to be…

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New York Times: NYC calorie rule scrutinized in courts of law, and science

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As a court fight simmers over New York City’s pioneering requirement for calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, scientists say the jury’s still out on whether giving people the numbers spurs them to eat healthier. CHIBE’s Christina Roberto says, “It’s unreasonable to say, ‘If this one policy doesn’t reduce obesity, it’s a failure,’ because the chances any one policy will do that are incredibly small.” Read more in the New York Times.

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Undark: Putting Digital Health Monitoring Tools to the Test

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PHYSICIANS CALL IT the 5,000-hour problem. If you have a common chronic condition such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the expert in charge of your health for almost all of your 5,000 waking hours annually is — you. And, frankly, you won’t always make the best choices. “The behavior changes that are necessary to address chronic disease are much more in your hands than in the doctor’s,” points out Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas. “To cede that control to the doctor sometimes is actually counterproductive.” With that in mind,…

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Psychology Today: Are Simple Behavioral Interventions Cost Effective?

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Psychology Today: “These analyses suggest that simple behavioral interventions should remain a part of the way governments and organizations try to affect people’s behavior. They often involve simple interventions that give a lot of bang for the buck. That said, it is also worth doing some testing of the effectiveness of these interventions. At times they can lead to unintended consequences.”

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NewsWise: Why Consumers Make Bad Financial Decisions, and How Simple Policy Changes Can Help

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In an ideal world, consumers are making investment and monetary decisions based on facts and thorough research of the markets, careful analysis, and guidance from seasoned financial experts. Think again. In the paper, “Behaviorally Informed Policies for Household Financial Decisionmaking,” by a working group of behavioral scientists including University of Chicago Booth School of Business Associate Professor Abigail Sussman, researchers find that financial mistakes happen when consumers fail to examine all of their choices when making monetary decisions. For instance, many home buyers don’t comparison shop when applying for a mortgage; they simply go with the first financial institution they contact. All too often,…

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NPR: ‘Smart’ Pill Bottles Aren’t Always Enough To Help The Medicine Go Down

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What if I told you there was a way to use technology to save an estimated $100 billion to $300 billion dollars a year in health care spending in the U.S.? That’s the estimated cost incurred because people don’t take the medications they’re prescribed. A number of companies are now selling wireless “smart” pill bottles, Internet-linked devices aimed at reminding people to take their pills. But recent research suggests that actually changing that behavior may take more than an electronic nudge. All agree it’s a worthy goal. Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, an internist at Harvard Medical School, describes the problem of not taking medication as “the…

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The Ringer: The Scientists Who Shape What and How We Eat

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In the early 1900s, the American breakfast looked very different from what we think of as traditional today. Instead of artery-clogging platters of meat, eggs, and potatoes, most breakfasts consisted of little more than a roll, fruit, and coffee to wash it all down. As people left rural areas for the cities and for new opportunities brought about by the Industrial Revolution, they left heavy farm breakfasts behind them, too. Those in the bacon business weren’t pleased. In the 1920s, Beech-Nut Packing Company contacted a man named Edward Bernays and asked him to find a way to get people to eat…

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Medical Xpress: Moving Beyond Nudges to Improve Health and Health Care Policies

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With countries around the world struggling to deliver quality health care and contain costs, a team of behavioral economists led by CHIBE’s George Loewenstein believes it’s time to apply recent insights on human behavior to inform and reform health policy. A report published in Behavioral Science & Policy outlines how behavioral science could be used to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of American health care. To do this, the research team argues that policies targeting individual behaviors—nudges—need to be augmented with more far-reaching and systemic interventions.   Read more at Medical Xpress.

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