Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Problems in Health and Health Care

Exploring ways to encourage healthier and more cost-effective behaviors and decisions

    • April 22, 2014

Dates of Program: August 2011 through November 2015

RWJF’s Behavioral Economics program funds research to investigate the application of the principles of behavioral economics to persistent problems in health and health care and to foster the development of a research community in that field.

Key Results to Date

  • Some of the completed studies have demonstrated that behavioral economics interventions can successfully lead to constructive changes in behavior. Others have not.

  • Studies underway in 2014 are focused on reducing the use of low-value tests and procedures by providers.

  • Even when interventions produced changes in behavior, the size of the impact has been consistently small. But interventions that produce small results can still have a substantial impact if applied broadly.

  • The initiative has furthered progress in the field.

“I don’t think there’s any question that behavioral economics approaches have a lot of potential to contribute to health care. At the same time it’s also true that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to figure out how those approaches can optimally contribute to health care.”—Program Director, Kevin G. M. Volpp, PhD, MD

Most Requested