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Knowledge@Wharton: Why Employee Wellness Programs Don’t Work

By In the News

From Knowledge@Wharton: Many companies have employee wellness programs with the goal of reducing the skyrocketing costs of health care for their workers. But there is little evidence that these programs are effective. Wharton management professors Iwan Barankay and Peter Cappelli suggest that instead of free gym memberships or yoga classes, companies should try to meet the most vulnerable workers where they are by offering support tailored to their needs. Helping those employees find a primary care doctor or transportation to routine appointments, for example, would improve their health outcomes better than cash incentives. “What we need to do is listen…

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Washington Post: Cities are ditching vaccine mandates to dine out and watch shows. Did they work?

By In the News

From The Washington Post: Alison M. Buttenheim, a behavioral scientist and associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, said vaccine mandates can act as a reward for getting a shot. “One thing we are solving for is allowing people to live as close to a normal, unrestricted life,” Buttenheim said. “For a vaccinated person, that’s good for my mental health, connections, social interactions and feeling reassured my city is watching out for me.” Read more in The Washington Post.

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Knowledge at Wharton – Get It Done: Two Techniques to Fast-track Your Goals

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Contributor: Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions Katy Milkman is co-director of Penn’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative and author of How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Portfolio, 2021). The Goal Reach individual and team goals by relying on short-term gratification instead of willpower. Nano Tool Need to ditch a bad habit? Want to start a positive new one, like adopting a productive morning routine, exercising, or eating healthier? Forget willpower. The research is clear: It doesn’t work. We tend to be overconfident about how easy it is to be self-disciplined, but a big payoff…

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NBC: How Americans Can Save Money When Choosing a Health Insurance Plan

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Most Americans struggle to figure out which health insurance plan will save them money. A study of almost 24,000 employees at a major Fortune 100 company found that 61% of them chose the wrong plan for their needs. The researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who conducted the study estimated that the average employee could have saved $372 per year by choosing a different plan. “The majority of employees chose plans that were more expensive, regardless of how much health care that they actually consumed the following year, and on average, the cost of these choices was about 2% of salary,”…

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Money Control: What is the fresh start effect and how you can start afresh this Monday

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January 1 is usually the big day when millions of people decide to start something afresh. This could be finally going to the gym, giving up unhealthy habits like smoking, or working towards a career goal they’d set months earlier. The beginning of every year marks a fresh start on the calendar, so it seems appropriate to start something new on that day too. Dr Katherine Milkman and her colleagues call this motivation the Fresh Start Effect – when special days in our lives inspire us to believe we are re-starting with a clean slate. Milkman is a professor at…

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HCPLive: Flu Shot Reservation Text Messaging May Improve Vaccination Rates

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Influenza vaccination uptake may be improved by health systems sending strategically-phrased text message reminders to patients, according to findings from a Philadelphia-based trial. The findings—which come in the same week as other research from Philadelphia showing Black patients’ buy-in to text-message telemedicine for blood pressuring monitoring, as well as findings from Finland showing improved flu vaccination rates in regions receiving reminder mail—are just the latest supporting individualized public health message strategies for regular vaccination. Led by Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, of the Department of Family and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, investigators sought to interpret…

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Next Big Idea Club: A Psychologist on Why We Love Sad Songs and Spicy Foods

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Think about your own favorite type of negative experience. Maybe you go to movies that make you cry, or scream, or gag. Or you might listen to sad songs. You might poke at sores, eat spicy foods, immerse yourself in painfully hot baths. Or climb mountains, run marathons, get punched in the face in gyms and dojos. All of this is what the psychologist Paul Rozin has called “benign masochism.” So why do you pursue this “benign masochism?” There’s no single explanation, of course. Choosing to suffer can serve social goals; it can display how tough we are or, in…

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Freakonomics MD: How Can You Choose the Best Doctor?

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David ASCH: We came upon the idea that we should evaluate medical training by its ability to produce doctors who deliver good care or good outcomes to patients. And we were pretty enthusiastic about that idea. It seems pretty logical, but I will say that at the time a lot of people had not been thinking along those lines. In most cases, I would say that people were evaluating residency programs by reputation, something I’d probably have to put into air quotes because I’m not really sure how reputation is created or whether it has any meaning compared to what…

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The Atlantic: How to Reclaim Normal Life Without Being ‘Done’

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Millions of Americans are now triply dosed with vaccines that can slash the odds of disease and death; a large fraction have an added bump of immunity from infection too. That’s making the net benefits of certain individual behaviors look all the more appealing, while collective risk remains abstract. Meanwhile, the cost of caution is only growing; many are weary of gaining marginal returns from the precautions that have swallowed their lives for 20-some months. “People don’t want to wait anymore,” Kenneth Carter, a psychologist and risk-behavior expert at Emory University, told me. Delayed gratification doesn’t work so well when…

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Business Insider: Why You Feel So Miserable About Life and Money Right Now

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Wages in the US have risen this year at the fastest rate since 1983. Plus, some Americans are still sitting on a savings stash a year after the last stimulus check went out. But no one seems to care. That’s because this all comes at a time when inflation is lingering at its highest level since 1982. George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, told Insider incomes were starting to rise as a result of the labor shortage and a lot of Americans felt they had the opportunity to improve their situations. “But one second later, it’s grabbed away from…

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