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Physical Activity Loyalty Cards for Behavior Change

A Quasi-Experimental Study
  • Ruth F. Hunter
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Ruth F. Hunter, PhD, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BJ, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
    Affiliations
    Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

    UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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  • Mark A. Tully
    Affiliations
    Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

    UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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  • Michael Davis
    Affiliations
    Centre for Secure Information Technologies, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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  • Michael Stevenson
    Affiliations
    Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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  • Frank Kee
    Affiliations
    Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

    UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences B, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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      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 financial incentives to increase PA in adults in the workplace.

      Design

      Two-arm quasi-experimental design.

      Setting/participants

      Employees (n=406) in a workplace setting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.

      Intervention

      Using a loyalty card to collect points and earn rewards, participants (n=199) in the Incentive Group monitored their PA levels and received financial incentives (retail vouchers) for minutes of PA completed over the course of a 12-week intervention period. Participants (n=207) 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 significant 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% CI=12.49, 22.56) compared to 16.63 minutes/week (95% CI=11.76, 21.51) in the No Incentive Group at Week 12 (p=0.59). At 6 months, participants in the Incentive Group recorded 26.18 minutes of PA/week (95% CI=20.06, 32.29) compared to 24.00 minutes/week (95% CI=17.45, 30.54) in the No Incentive Group (p=0.45).

      Conclusions

      Financial incentives did not encourage participants to undertake more PA than self-monitoring 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.
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