Cash rewards keep people on their medications

NEW YORK Thu Aug 2, 2012 5:54pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Weekly rewards of as little as $5 could keep people on track with their medications, says a new study.

"It helps the patient understand that we are serious about helping them get treated," said Dr. Deb Sodt, who leads the Minnesota Department of Health Tuberculosis Prevention & Control Program and was not involved in the new work.

Recent studies suggest that fewer than half of people don't follow doctors' medication orders, even for life-threatening conditions. Around 130,000 people die each year in the United States because they don't take their medication to prevent heart disease, for example. (See Reuters Health story of July 25, 2012:.)

For the new study, Dr. Nancy Petry and her team at the University of Connecticut looked at 21 studies that offered incentives to people taking medication for tuberculosis, substance abuse, HIV, hepatitis, schizophrenia and stroke prevention.

One-third of the studies offered people with tuberculosis (TB) weekly rewards of $5 to $10 to stick to their treatment schedules.

People who took their drugs on time - and researchers either watched them as they did so, or used electronic bottle caps that tracked when bottles were opened - were rewarded with grocery vouchers, bus tokens, food and clothing, or money.

Overall, the researchers found that people were most likely to stick to their medication if they could earn $50 or more per week by doing so. However, only five of the studies offered this level of incentive, to people taking medication for HIV or substance abuse - rewards of up to $96 a week, on average, were available.

Sodt's Minnesota program has been offering $5 grocery vouchers to people who take their TB medication for years.

But it's not automatic, Sodt said. Incentives are only used if they will help a person complete their therapy.


In one study Petry's team looked at, people could earn up to $70 a week - at $2 to $10 per dose - for taking their HIV meds correctly over four weeks. Ninety percent of people who were offered a reward took their medication, compared to 69 percent who didn't receive any financial incentive.

Among people with TB in a 1990 study, 64 percent of people who received a $5 reward for each clinic visit finished their treatment, compared to 27 percent of those who didn't receive a reward. Patients were treated for 9 to 12 months.

Rewards offered at least once a week were also more likely to encourage people to take medication, and the longer the rewards were available, the better. Studies lasted 24 weeks, on average.

Petry noted that using incentives gets more complicated for long term medications, like HIV and hypertension drugs, that people have to take for the rest of their lives.

But there may be substantial public health consequences if people don't complete their treatment.

With HIV for example, if a patient doesn't continue the drug regimen they develop drug resistance and can pass the resistant virus on to others, who would then have fewer options for treatment, Petry told Reuters Health.

According to Petry, offering people financial incentives for taking medication could be cost-effective for health insurers, particularly in the case of blood pressure and cholesterol medications.

Dr. Mark Pauly, who studies healthcare costs at the University of Pennsylvania, disagrees. He told Reuters Health that doctors would most likely end up paying the people who would have taken their medication anyway.

Financial rewards aren't the only option. Recent research on diabetes suggests that support from a buddy or mentor can be as effective as money when it comes to helping people stick to their medication.

For Pauly, there are still too many unanswered questions. "Did these incentives make people do what doctors wanted to them to do? It doesn't necessarily translate into better health."

SOURCE: American Journal of Medicine, online July 16, 2012.

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Comments (2)
umojaresearch wrote:
It’s a shame Modern Medicine is not working to actually create healthy people, rather than bribe them to take drugs, which have already been proven to be hazardous to your good health.

The Trillion Dollar cost$ and expense of todays modern medical industry is fueled by profits from drug sales. The Medical Industry, drug Companies, FDA and AMA have suppressed Cancer cures and the cures of other diseases for over a century.

It’s a shame, after over a Century of actual cure for cancer, which usually has nothing to do with drugs, modern medicine is still looking for health in a bottle.

Cancer was cured in the U.S. prior to 1913 and all the doctors and holistic practitioners, who actually cured “Cancer” were victimized by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the actual cures were suppressed because the remedies cost pennies on the dollar. The Drug Companies, or the Medical Industry, who seek profits over cures for health, cannot patent those remedies or cures.


1. Politics in Healing: The Suppression and Manipulation of American Medicine by Daniel Haley
2. The Persecution and trial of Gaston Naessens: The True Story of The Efforts to Suppress an Alternative Treatment for Cancer, AIDS and Other Immunologically Based Diseases, by Christopher Bird.
3. Olive Leaf Extract, by Morton Walker.
4. DVD, VACCINES, What CDC Documents and Science Reveal, by Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny
5. “Full Disclosure”, by Dr. Gary L Glum (AIDS Evidence of Dr. John Seale
6. Nutrition Against Disease, Roger J. Williams
7. Racketeering in Medicine, The Suppression of Alternatives, James P. Carter, M.D., Dr.P.H
8. DVD, Cancer, The Forbidden Cures, Massimo Mazzucco
9. DVD, Dying To Have Known, The Evidence Behind Natural Healing, Steve Kroschel
10. Murder By Injection: The Story of The Medical Conspiracy Against America, by Eustace Mullins
11. The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy: How The New World Order, Man-Made Diseases and Zombie Banks Are Destroying America, by Jim Marrs
12. The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses, by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker
13. A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and The Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy, by Dr. Max Gerson
14. The Budwig Cancer & Coronary Heart Disease Prevention Diet: The Revolutionary Diet from Dr. Johanna Budwig, the Woman Who Discovered Omega-3s, by Dr. Johanna Budwig
15. Cancer: The Problem and The Solution, by Dr. Johanna Budwig
16. Royal R. Rife: Humanitarian, Betrayed and Persecuted, by Gerald F. Foye
17. The Cancer Cure That Worked: 50 Years of Suppression, by Barry Lynes
18. Suppressed Medical Science, by Jack Phillips
19. You Don’t Have To Die! by Harry M. Hoxsey

Aug 02, 2012 7:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
disabooo wrote:
I was brutally assaulted over seven years ago. In that assault I was forced to take numerous drugs, which I had already had life-threatening adverse reactions and allergies. I’ve also been put on a “disability retirement” (unpayable debt). Since I’ve been verbally assaulted and had SSRIs and other illegal drugs in my home, I’m having some symptoms of Tourettes.
I’m still looking for protection from doctors. Does anyone have a clue on how I can get some help? And I mean HELP – not governmental denialism.

Aug 03, 2012 11:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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