Background: Financial incentives have been advocated by the UK and U.S. governments to encourage adoption of healthy lifestyles. However, evidence to support the use of incentives for changing physical activity (PA) behavior is sparse.
Purpose:To investigate the effectiveness of?nancial incentives to increase PA in adults in the workplace.
Design: Two-arm quasi-experimental design.
Setting/participants: Employees (n¼406) in a workplace setting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.
Intervention: Using a loyalty card to collect points and earn rewards, participants (n¼199) in the Incentive Group monitored their PA levels and received ?nancial incentives (retail vouchers) for minutes of PA completed over the course of a 12-week intervention period. Participants (n¼207) in the comparison group used their loyalty card to self-monitor their PA levels but were not able to earn points or obtain incentives (No Incentive Group).
Main outcome measures:The primary outcome was minutes of PA objectively measured using a novel PA tracking system at baseline (April 2011); Week 6 (June 2011); and Week 12 (July 2011).
Other outcomes, including a self-report measure of PA, were collected at baseline, Week 12, and 6 months (October 2011). Data were analyzed in June 2012.
Results: No signi?cant differences between groups were found for primary or secondary outcomes at the 12-week and 6-month assessments. Participants in the Incentive Group recorded 17.52 minutes of PA/week (95% CI¼12.49, 22.56) compared to 16.63 minutes/week (95% CI¼11.76, 21.51) in the No Incentive Group at Week 12 (p¼0.59). At 6 months, participants in the Incentive Group recorded 26.18 minutes of PA/week (95% CI¼20.06, 32.29) compared to 24.00 minutes/week (95% CI¼17.45, 30.54) in the No Incentive Group (p¼0.45).
Conclusions: Financial incentives did not encourage participants to undertake more PA than selfmonitoring PA. This study contributes to the evidence base and has important implications for increasing participation in physical activity and fostering links with the business sector. (Am J Prev Med 2013;45(1):56–63) © 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine