A promising new approach to support lifestyle changes in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the use of financial incentives. Although financial incentives have proven to be effective, their implementation remains controversial, and ethical objections have been raised. It is unknown whether health care professionals (HCPs) involved in CVD care find it acceptable to provide financial incentives to patients with CVD as support for lifestyle change.
This study aims to investigate HCPs’ perspectives on using financial incentives to support healthy living for patients with CVD. More specifically, we aim to provide insight into attitudes toward using financial incentives as well as obstacles and facilitators of implementing financial incentives in current CVD care.
A total of 16 semistructured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with Dutch HCPs involved in supporting patients with CVD with lifestyle changes. The topics discussed were attitudes toward an incentive system, obstacles to using an incentive system, and possible solutions to facilitate the use of an incentive system.
HCPs perceived an incentive system for healthy living for patients with CVD as possibly effective and showed generally high acceptance. However, there were concerns related to focusing too much on the extrinsic aspects of lifestyle change, disengagement when rewards are insignificant, paternalization and threatening autonomy, and low digital literacy in the target group. According to HCPs, solutions to mitigate these concerns included emphasizing intrinsic aspects of healthy living while giving extrinsic rewards, integrating social aspects to increase engagement, supporting autonomy by allowing freedom of choice in rewards, and aiming for a target group that can work with the necessary technology.
This study mapped perspectives of Dutch HCPs and showed that attitudes are predominantly positive, provided that contextual factors, design, and target groups are accurately considered. Concerns about digital literacy in the target group are novel findings that warrant further investigation. Follow-up research is needed to validate these insights among patients with CVD.