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Do Incentives Promote Action Planning in a Web-based Walking Intervention?

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In this study, we examine the effect of providing an incentive for engagement in self-regulatory behaviors (ie, action planning), in inactive, office-based university employees participating in an 11-week, Web-based walking intervention.


Participants were randomly assigned to either control (intervention only) or incentive (intervention plus incentive; CAD $5.00 e-gift card delivered weekly for completing action plans over 4 weeks) conditions. Cohen’s d was used to estimate the effect of the incentive on action planning and a RM-ANOVA examined differences in average steps/day, between the 2 conditions, before, during, and after the 4-week incentive period.


Sixty-nine participants were included in the analysis (incentive: N = 34; control: N = 35; 88% female; Mage = 40.46±10.6 years). A large effect size (d = 1.01) in action plan completion was observed, favoring the incentive condition, with the effect of condition remaining high after incentives were withdrawn (d = 1.0). Greater steps/day favored the incentive condition during the post-incentive period (small effect size; d = 0.28).


Incentives were effective in encouraging engagement in a self-regulatory strategy (action planning). Future research should examine the optimal incentive structure and timing for engagement.
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Keywords: Web-based; action planning; financial incentives; physical activity intervention; self-regulatory strategies

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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