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New Call for Proposals: Pioneering Use of Behavioral Economics

Mar 4, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Lori Melichar Lori Melichar

We have announced our second Call for Proposals in the field of behavioral economics. We’re actively seeking ideas that will help us to better understand how to discourage the consumption of low-value health services — those that provide more harm than benefit or which provide only marginal health benefits. In addition to improving health outcomes, this knowledge could contribute to lowering health care costs for us all.

Behavioral economics is an area of study by which I’ve personally grown increasingly intrigued and in which the Foundation has recently begun to invest.  We all know, for example, that we need to exercise, eat right and be actively engaged in our own health care. But we don’t always do what we know we should do; knowing the “right” decision to make does not guarantee that we make that decision. The goal of behavioral economics is to uncover insights that could enable people to make better — more “rational” — choices for their health.

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The Potential to Solve Perplexing Health Problems

Nov 8, 2011, 3:49 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

In October, RWJF’s Pioneer portfolio laid down a challenge. Recognizing that good health behaviors often require behavior change, but that making those changes is usually easier said than done, we asked the pioneering world of behavioral economics to come up with solutions—innovative ideas to help people make the “right” decisions for their health.

The results were unbelievable. We’re excited to announce that Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer portfolio received more than 330 responses—a plethora of ideas drawing on behavioral economics to address tough health problems—in reply to our recent call for proposals.

We received applications from a variety of institutions, including universities, business schools, schools of public health, medical schools, clinics, non-profits, and research organizations. Our hope was to discover new interventions and insights that have potential to transform health and health care. In particular, we stated an interest in experiments that test innovative solutions to the challenges of obesity and consumer engagement. More than 50 percent of the applications we received focus on problems involving obesity. Nearly one-third involve consumer engagement. We are eager to dig into these as well as the investigator-initiated topics and invite those with the most pioneering ideas to submit a full proposal later this month.

RWJF’s Pioneer portfolio supports unconventional approaches to difficult problems—visionary solutions that have the potential to change the way we think about health and health care. We are the only RWJF team that accepts unsolicited proposals; however, when we target an area that we think deserves more attention, we are often humbled and excited by the caliber of the results.  I extend my warmest thanks to those scientists, economists, physicians and big thinkers who submitted your pioneering ideas as an answer to this call and to all those in our network who helped spread the word.