Uncovering a behavioral strategy for establishing new habits: Evidence from incentives for medication adherence in Uganda

Chad Stecher, Barbara Mukasa, Sebastian Linnemayr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Incentives are used to improve many health-related behaviors, but evidence is mixed for their effectiveness both during the incentivization period and, even more so, on the persistence of the behavior after incentives are withdrawn. In this paper, we present the results of a randomized controlled trial that successfully uses incentives to improve medication adherence among HIV-infected patients in Uganda over 20 months, and follows the sample for another 6 months to measure the persistence of these behavioral improvements. Our study contributes to the literature on habit formation by identifying a behavioral strategy that is associated with persistently high medication adherence after controlling for observable individual-level characteristics and the receipt of incentives. We find evidence supporting a psychological theory of habits as reflexive context-behavior associations, which suggests new ways of designing incentive-based interventions for better promoting persistent, healthier behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102443
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Volume77
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • HIV
  • Habit formation
  • Incentives
  • Medication adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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