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‘Will walk for groceries’: Acceptability of financial health incentives among Canadian cardiac rehabilitation patients

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Financial health incentives, such as paying people to exercise, remain controversial despite widespread implementation. This focus group study explored the acceptability of incentives among a sample of Canadian cardiac rehabilitation (CR) patients (n = 15). Focus groups were conducted between March and April 2013 until further sampling ceased to produce new analytical concepts. A thematic analysis approach was adopted in analysing the data. Three broad themes emerged from the focus groups. First, ethical concerns were prominent. Half of participants disagreed with the incentive approach believing that it was unfair, unnecessary or a waste of limited resources. Second, ethical concerns were mitigated in considering a range of incentive features including type, size and source. Specifically, privately sponsored (not government funded) health-promoting voucher-based incentives (e.g. grocery or gym vouchers) were perceived to be highly acceptable. Third, if designed like this, then financial incentives were considered potentially effective in motivating behaviour change and in reducing economic barriers to exercise participation. Overall, the majority of participants welcomed incentives if ethical concerns were addressed through thoughtful incentive programme design. The results of this focus group study will inform the design of a financial health incentive feasibility RCT to promote post-CR programme exercise compliance in this population.
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Keywords: cardiac rehabilitation; exercise; financial incentives; health

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 3: Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: September 2, 2014

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