Teens and young adults with diabetes may do a better job of checking their blood sugar when they get daily financial incentives than when there’s no cash on the line, a recent experiment suggests.
Researchers tested out the potential for money to motivate young people to test blood sugar daily by offering $60 a month up front and then subtracting $2 for each day a participant didn’t follow through on required testing. For three months, researchers randomly selected 90 teens and young adults to get these cash incentives or no reward at all.
Overall, the youth with money at stake met their daily blood sugar testing goals half of the time, while without rewards, participants only met their testing goals 19 percent of the time.
“The young people felt motivated and empowered to find ways to check their glucoses more with money on the line,” said lead study author Dr. Charlene Wong of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
“They were especially motivated by the increasing losses if they missed the goal multiple days in a row,” Wong said by email.All of the study participants had what’s known as type 1 diabetes. This chronic condition, typically diagnosed in children and young adults, occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow blood sugar, or glucose, to enter the body’s cells.