Now Viewing: Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

We Need to Be the Change We Wish to See

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

Lori A. Melichar Lori Melichar, director

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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Can Our Positive Health Assets Cut Health Costs?

Dec 12, 2013, 12:30 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

A female patient gets an allergy checkup in a doctor's office.

By Eric Kim

What if scientists could develop simple, low cost interventions that enhance health and reduce healthcare costs? What if these interventions also increased psychological well-being and were inherently enjoyable for people to perform? These questions are particularly relevant now, as we are constantly reminded of our nation’s rising healthcare costs.

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Behavioral Economists Compete: Innovation Tournament on Health

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

BE innovation 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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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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Could Good Health Be Contagious?

Nov 18, 2013, 6:00 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

teamup4health group exercise

A study released this week at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions provides early evidence indicating that social networks can be leveraged to spread good health. The study, which is the first long-term randomized trial of its kind in the U.S., recruited friends and families in rural Kentucky into "microclinic" social network clusters. Together, the microclinic groups attended weekly social events, such as physical activity sessions and nutrition classes.  Collectively called Team Up 4 Health, these activities were supported with gifts from Humana, a health care company focused on wellness, as well as funding from the Mulago Foundation and the Goldsmith Foundation. Microclinic members lost more weight and more inches from their waistlines than those who received standard individual care. Microclinic participants sustained these results over time, lasting beyond the 10-month program period to even six months later.

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