Project Step: A Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Effects of Frequent Feedback and Contingent Incentives on Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Financial incentives and feedback on behavior offer promise for promoting physical activity. However, evidence for the effect of each of these techniques is inadequate. The present study evaluated the effects of daily versus weekly feedback and incentives contingent on reaching a daily walking goal versus noncontingent incentives in a 2 × 2 trial. Methods: Participants (N = 57) had a body mass index >25 kg/m2 and were insufficiently active. Participants received a daily walking goal that adapted weekly. Results: Participants receiving daily feedback increased daily steps (P = .03) more than those receiving weekly feedback. Participants receiving contingent incentives did not significantly increase steps (P = .12) more than those receiving noncontingent incentives. A trend-level effect (P = .09) suggested that there may be an interaction such that the combination of daily feedback and contingent incentives is most effective. Conclusions: Results indicate that feedback is an important component of remotely delivered PA interventions and that evaluating each component of low-intensity interventions may help to improve efficacy. Moreover, results indicate that possible synergistic effects of feedback and rewards should be investigated further to help optimize interventions.

Kerrigan is with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. Forman, Loyka, Zhang, and Butryn are with the Department of Psychology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Forman, Loyka, and Butryn are also with the WELL Center, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Williams is with the Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences and the Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Brown School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA. Patel is with the Department of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; the Department of Health Care Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; and the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Crosby is with the Sanford Center for Bio-Behavioral Research, Fargo, ND, USA; and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, Fargo, ND, USA.

Kerrigan (stephanie.kerrigan@yale.edu) is corresponding author.
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