240710 A behavioral economics intervention improves compliance with the U.S. public health physical activity recommendations: Preliminary results from the REWARD (Reinforcing Exercise With Activity-Related Dividends) Trial

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jeremy Sibold, EdD, ATC , Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Janice Yanushka Bunn, PhD , Department of Medical Biostatistics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Juvena Hitt, MS , Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Phillip Ades, MD , College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
David Brock, PhD , Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Background: Despite widespread public health campaigns, participation in physical activity (PA) is at a historic low in the U.S., with substantial socioeconomic cost. Behavioral economic models have been reported to be very effective in eliciting positive change in similar public health problems. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine if a behavioral economics paradigm would improve compliance with current physical activity recommendations in sedentary, overweight adults. Methods: University employees were enrolled in a 12-week incentivized walking program. Participants were encouraged through an interactive website, financial incentives, and weekly meetings to achieve at least 8000 steps/day. Results: To date, eight subjects (age: 43.6 10.4; BMI: 37.6 7.27) have completed the program and a 6-month free-living period. Baseline steps per day met the classification as sedentary (2901 1051) and significantly increased through week 12 (8545 655, p<0.01); with concomitant improvements in depression (week 1: 12.00 16.48; week 12 5.14 7.40), mood (week 1: 26.8 24.86; week 12: 10.2 9.97), and worker lost productivity (week 1: 6.22 8.13; week 12: 1.86 4.73). Exercise stage of change significantly increased from week 1 (2.4 0.9) to week 12 (4.2 0.7, p<0.01), and at six month follow up, remained significantly higher (3.0 0.8, p<0.01). Conclusions: These preliminary findings provide compelling support for behavioral economics models to counter low compliance with current physical activity recommendations, while potentially providing a solvent way to mitigate the human and economic costs of sedentary lifestyle.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based, financially incentivized work site physical activity intervention for sedentary, overweight employees.

Keywords: Behavior Modification, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present as I served as a co-investigator on this funded project and am actively researching the psychosocial correlates of exercise behavior.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.