The Influence of Incentive-Based Programs on Behaviour Change: White Paper

Toronto, ON (June 8, 2016) – Many Canadians probably know that they should improve their health, but find it difficult to shed old habits in circumstances that “conspire” against them. Achieving even a “modest” 1% lower prevalence of smoking, excess weight and physical inactivity would save an estimated $8.5 billion toward the cost of preventable chronic disease in just 15 years.

Because practices such as being active, eating healthfully and giving up smoking rarely bestow immediate gratification that is intrinsically motivated, “… even highly motivated individuals often have difficulty in making decisions in the short term that favor their long-term interests.” Thus, offering rewards or incentives as extrinsic motivators may bridge the time needed to internalize the values and benefits of healthy living, and combining rewards with tested behavioural change strategies, create the best conditions for success for improving the health of Canadians.

The newly released white paper, Redeeming Behaviours: The Influence of Incentive-Based Programs on Behaviour Change, co-authored by Dr. Joan Wharf Higgins (University of Victoria), Dr. Jenny Scott (Simon Fraser University) and Dr. Marc Mitchell (University Health Network) summarizes the evidence for incentive-based initiatives as a motivational tool to facilitate the uptake and maintenance of health behaviour change. Also included in the paper are five key recommendations gleaned from the literature pertaining to how best frame health behaviour change incentive structures moving forward.

Based on the evidence, the most promising scaffold of incentives to attract and engage people is one characterized as indexed, escalating, self-determined, tailored and structured as a self-monitoring tool. Doing so means that incentive programs are designed to connect, realize and appreciate participants’ intrinsic motivators to help them sustain lifelong health practices. This is exactly the premise behind an infrastructure for behaviour change that the first rewards-based health behaviour change program in Canada, “BestLifeRewarded®”, offers its members.

Theoretically grounded in both the transtheoretical model (the “stages of change” theory) and behavioural economics, a notable attribute of BestLifeRewarded is its enduring nature: unlike many interventions that test the sustainability of incentives on behaviour change once removed, BestLifeRewarded offers persistent, self-determined, customized and both process- and outcome-oriented incentives that can be ‘cashed in’ at various points along the behaviour change process. This design structure is more likely to foster quality and long-term change.

Founded by Cookson James Loyalty, Inc. in 2010, BestLifeRewarded has consistently demonstrated population health results for its insurance, employer, clinical and non-profit partners. “We are proud to be on the forefront of evidence-based, incentivized health behaviour change programs to support Canadians to get and keep healthy,” says Susanne Cookson co-founder of Cookson James Loyalty and the BestLifeRewarded platform. “We are dedicated to continuously researching and providing evidence to create the best conditions for success”, Cookson continues. Randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of BestLifeRewarded with cardiac rehabilitation and hospital employee populations are currently underway.

To receive a free copy of the full white paper, Redeeming Behaviours: The Influence of Incentive-Based Programs on Behaviour Change with comprehensive references, please email [email protected] or call (905) 336-1000.

About Cookson James Loyalty

Based in Burlington, Ontario, Cookson James Loyalty currently operates corporate wellness and patient support programs across Canada and the Cayman Islands. For more information visit

Source: Cookson James Loyalty