Now Viewing: Behavior change

Simple, Small Changes Can Lead to Healthier Food Choices

Jan 21, 2014, 2:00 PM, Posted by Deborah Bae

Infographic: Can a Traffic Light Guide You To Make Healthier Choices?

At this time of year, many of us find ourselves trying hard to stick to that New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. Here is some good news: simple changes in our environment can have meaningful, sustained effects on our ability to make healthy food choices.

Committing to a healthier diet and trying to lose weight is hard, and many people believe they can do it as long as they have the right motivation and attitude. We’ll say things like, “I’m going to eat better” or “I’m going to eat fewer unhealthy foods.” But that commitment can be tough when people face a variety of unhealthy choices and just a few healthy ones. Or when it’s hard to tell which is which.

Researcher and physician Anne Thorndike and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital tested a novel idea: if all healthy food and drinks sold in the hospital cafeteria were labeled green, and all unhealthy items had red labels, would people make healthier choices?

Read more on the Culture of Health blog.

We Need to Be the Change We Wish to See

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

Lori Melichar, senior program officer Lori Melichar, senior program officer

Those of us working to achieve a culture of health in this country need to practice the healthy habits we preach.

In Danielle Ofri’s recent New York Times op-ed, Why Doctors Don’t Take Sick Days, she describes a problem that’s persisted for ages, but that no one has created systems to solve: doctors refusing to call in sick. “From day one in medical training,” she writes, “the unspoken message is that calling in sick is for wimps.”

Her message hit home. Despite working for the country’s largest health foundation, I’m also guilty of coming to work sick, and of sending my kids to daycare sick, on days when I feel it would be disruptive to reschedule a day’s worth of meetings. 

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Behavioral Economics and Low Value Care

Dec 13, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Doctors go over a patient's charts in the emergency room.

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Pioneering Ideas Podcast: Episode 2

Dec 11, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

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Welcome to episode two of our podcast. This time we kick things off with our new Mailbag segment, in which Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini answers questions from listeners (time stamp: 1:12). Next, in a conversation with Assistant Vice President of Research and Evaluation and former Pioneer Team Director Brian Quinn, social scientist, innovator, teacher and recent What’s Next Health guest BJ Fogg talks about the need to help people understand how behavior works so they can be more effective in changing their own behavior (4:34). Then we listen in on RWJF’s first-ever Pitch Day, emceed by the Foundation’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Thomas Goetz, and featuring judges like angel investor Esther Dyson and NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam (8:10). Finally, Senior Program Officer and physician Mike Painter shares a personal story and a plea for getting the human motivators right in health care (16:11). This episode is hosted by program associate (and former TV broadcaster) Christine Nieves.

We hope you enjoy listening, and we hope you learn something; we certainly did. And there’s more to learn: Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below, as well as any questions that you’d like us to answer in a future episode.

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Behavioral Economists Compete: Innovation Tournament on Health

Dec 4, 2013, 5:30 PM, Posted by Deborah Bae

Participants at the Innovation Tournament Participants at the Innovation Tournament

Through a series of small grants, the Pioneer team is exploring the utility of applying behavioral economic principles to perplexing health and health care problems—everything from getting seniors to walk more to forgoing low-value health care.

At a recent meeting in Philadelphia, held in conjunction with the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Leonard Davis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, we challenged these grantees to compete in an Innovation Tournament.

The goal was to identify testable ideas that leverage behavioral economic principles to help make people healthier by working with commercial entities. Participants were assigned to groups and made their best pitches to their colleagues. And of course we used a behavioral economics principle (financial incentives) to increase participation: Each member of the first, second and third place teams received Amazon gift cards.

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