Now Viewing: Behavioral economics

What's Next Health: Jammed Up: Is Too Much Choice Bad for Our Health?

Sep 4, 2014, 2:28 PM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Too Many Choices

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Sheena Iyengar, Inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia University, about navigating the thousands of choices we make daily – and the stress that comes with making so many decisions. In this post, RWJF Director Lori Melichar reflects on Sheena's visit to the Foundation.

Each of us makes choices constantly and those choices reverberate across other aspects of our lives. By choosing to read this blog, you’ve chosen to place something else on hold.

Depending on the time of day you read this, you have likely made hundreds of distinct choices today...from choosing to hit snooze one...or two, or three times, to choosing what to eat for breakfast, where to park and whether to take the stairs or the elevator in your office or home.

I don't have to tell you that so many of the choices you have made in the last 24 hours already will affect your health, your bodies (those of you who had green smoothies for breakfast are probably feeling a little better than those who, like me, had a muffin), as well as your mental health (how many of you, like me, are regretting your decision to stay up to watch another episode of The Americans instead of getting eight hours of sleep?). Many of the choices you make are simple, but many are extremely complex. 

The emerging science that helps us understand why we make the choices we do—and how to influence those choices—is equally complex.

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What’s Next Health: The Motivation Bias

Nov 27, 2013, 7:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Debra Joy Pérez, vice president for Knowledge Support at the Annie E. Casey Foundation Debra Joy Pérez, vice president for Knowledge Support at the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with BJ Fogg, director of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, to discuss motivation versus ability, and to better understand which matters more in creating long-term change. In this post, Debra Joy Pérez, former assistant vice president for Research and Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who is now working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shares her impressions of BJ’s model and how it might impact the work of organizations like ours.

By Debra Joy Pérez

There is something magically simple in how BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Model addresses behavior change. When just three elements coincide—motivation, ability and a trigger—behavior change happens.

From my own experience, I can tell you that BJ’s model can work in developing new and healthy habits. I heard from BJ that immediately after he pees, he does push-ups. He is attaching a new habit he wants to create to an old habit he already has. Every time he relieves himself, he is triggered to perform a simple action that has him looking and feeling healthier. Like BJ, I wanted to improve my health (motivation)—specifically, I wanted to drink more water. My trigger was green tea. I drink a lot of it, so after each cup, I remember to fill the empty cup with water. I’m pleasantly surprised when I see that I’m nearing half a gallon by the middle of the day. It's working.

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Six Ideas for Reducing the Use of Low-Value Health Care

Oct 17, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Lori A. Melichar Lori Melichar, director

Two years ago, my colleagues and I knew very little about how to use behavioral economics to improve health care decisions. Today, we know more. We also know how much there is to learn and do in this field.

That’s why we’re excited to announce six new grantees who will continue to build on the work we’ve funded over the last two years to apply principles from behavioral economics to challenges in health care.

The new grantees are as follows:

  • Amber Barnato and Rebecca Sudore, University of Pittsburgh and University of California, San Francisco, Consumer-directed financial incentives to increase advance care planning among Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Jeremiah Schuur, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc., Decision Fatigue in the Emergency Department and the Use of Hospital Services
  • Jeffrey Kullgren, University of Michigan Medical School, Decreasing Overuse of Low-Value Health Care Services through Physician Precommitment
  • Mark Vogel and Scott Halpern, Genesys Health System and University of Pennsylvania, BEACON -  Behavioral Economics for Advanced Care OptioNs
  • Richard Frank and Abigail Friedman, Harvard Medical School, Behavioral Experiments in Improving Medicare Coverage Choice
  • Mark Schlesinger and Rachel Grob, Yale University and University of Wisconsin – Madison,  Precommitment, Provider Choice, and Forgoing Low-Value Health Care

If you’re curious about why we’re funding these particular projects at this specific moment in time, read on.

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RWJF Pioneering Ideas Podcast: Episode 1 | Behavioral Economics, the Science of Placebo Studies & More

Aug 6, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Welcome to the first episode of the Pioneering Ideas podcast. Get insight into the Pioneer funding strategy in a Q&A with Brian Quinn. Next, in a conversation about our recent Behavioral Economics Call for Problems (time stamp: 4:35), director Lori Melichar and Drs. Kevin Volpp and David Asch, co-directors of the Foundation's Behavioral Economics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, talk about the pros and cons of making proposals public so ideas can spread. Then Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk, a Pioneer grantee, talks about the developing science of placebo studies (9:25). And Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini talks with Pioneer grantee Ben Heywood about how PatientsLikeMe could change medical practice and research (13:10). It's a stimulating mix of conversations, all of which offer a window into what, exactly, constitutes a pioneering idea. Listen now or download the episode:

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Influencing Cultural Norms Through Social Networks Could Improve Mental Health

May 21, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

A program focused on changing the opinions of popular students could change the way others think about “norms” around bullying—which, in turn, could potentially lead to a change in students’ behavior.

Princeton professor Betsy Paluck provided this example during a recent presentation about her pioneering work using social network insights to affect culture and norms. Ever since, the concepts she explored have been influencing my thoughts about how to solve perplexing health and health care problems.

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