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both during the incentivization period and, even more so, on the persistence of the behavior after incentives are withdrawn.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.
- Habit formation
- Medication adherence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health