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Int J Behav Med. 2014 Feb;21(1):206-9. doi: 10.1007/s12529-013-9313-2.

Keeping the ‘goose’ on the menu: response to commentaries on financial incentives in health behaviour change.


We welcome the commentaries by Hagger et al.and Stephens and consider their observations to be timely and constructive. Hagger et al. raise concerns regarding the sustainability of behaviour change once incentives have been removed and their influence on intrinsic motivation. We concur that questions regarding both of these issues remain but argue that, in the case of sustainability, there is some evidence to support long-term behaviour change, given particular conditions. Given that the question of maintenance is applicable to any health intervention, we propose that the role of incentives may be better matched with motivating initial behaviour change, and researchers should explore other mechanisms for sustaining behaviour change and intrinsic motivation, over a longer period of time. Stephens highlights the complexity of health behaviours and warns of the dangers associated with taking an individualised approach to health promotion. We support the need for both downstream and upstream approaches to reducing health inequalities and contend that financial incentives still have a potential role to play in encouraging health behaviour change.

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