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Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is a powerful, evidence-based tool for both understanding and influencing human behavior in individuals, groups, and institutions. With its focus on the social, cognitive, and emotional factors that affect personal economic decisions, it is rapidly gaining attention as an innovative opportunity to help improve consumer choices and behaviors. Leaders in the field include Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, and Richard Thaler, as well as Cass Sunstein, who have published work on building choice architecture to promote certain decisions through “nudges.”

The Vitality Institute supports the use of principles of behavioral economics to promote healthy habits. These include specific behaviors such as smoking cessation, healthier eating and weight loss, and medication adherence through financial incentives, lotteries, choice architecture, and framing.

The Evidence

From the Blog

More steps, more life

It is well-known that being physically active is linked to living a longer and healthier life. A recent study from Australian researchers confirmed this, showing that taking more steps each day led to a lower... More »

Adriana Selwyn and Jonathan Dugas | Mar 23, 2016
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Wearable Devices as Facilitators, Not Drivers, of Health Behavior Change

Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS1; David A. Asch, MD, MBA; Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD Ref: JAMA. 2015;313(5):459-460. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.14781. This Viewpoint discusses issues that prevent wearable medical devices from effectively bridging the gap between recording information and changing health-related behavior.... More »

JAMA | Feb. 3, 2015

Making the Workplace a More Effective Site for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases in Adults

By Tryon, Katherine MA (Oxon), MBBS; Bolnick, Howard MBA, FSA; Pomeranz, Jennifer L. JD, MPH; Pronk, Nicolaas PhD; Yach, Derek MBChB, MPH Abstract Objective: Efforts to realize the potential of disease prevention in the United... More »

Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine (JOEM) | November 2014

Do Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs Work?

Authors: Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Henke, Rachel Mosher PhD; Tabrizi, Maryam PhD, MS; Pelletier, Kenneth R. PhD, MD (hc); Loeppke, Ron MD, MPH; Ballard, David W. PsyD, MBA; Grossmeier, Jessica PhD, MPH; Anderson, David R.... More »

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (JOEM) | September 2014

9. Why Incentivize Healthy Behavior at Work (Webinar Series)

Kevin Volpp (UPenn); Robert Galvin (Equity Health)

Watch Past Webinar | May 12, 2015 | 2-3pm ET

New Opportunities in the Changing Landscape of Prevention

By Derek Yach and Chris Calitz The focus of medical research has historically been on curative medicine, yielding better drugs, medical devices, and clinical procedures. Prevention science—the systematic application of scientific methods to the causes... More »

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) | July 17, 2014

Impact of a Patient Incentive Program on Receipt of Preventive Care

Published Online: June 25, 2014 Authors: Ateev Mehrotra, MD; Ruopeng An, PhD; Deepak N. Patel, MBBS; and Roland Sturm, PhD Objectives: Patient financial incentives are being promoted as a mechanism to increase receipt of preventive care,... More »

American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) | June 25, 2014

Improving Support for Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention: Summary of Key Messages from Reports of the Institute of Medicine

Leigh Carroll and Bridget B. Kelly, Editors   This paper was commissioned by the Vitality Institute, an organization with a mission to advance knowledge about the evolving science and art of chronic disease prevention and... More »

Institute of Medicine (IOM) | June 18, 2014

Can E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Smoking?

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, but it's also one of the most difficult. There are myriad smoking cessation products available, from the patch to medications and... More »

US News | May 21, 2014