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Financial Incentives to Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening: A Longitudinal Randomized Control Trial.



Financial incentives may improve health behaviors. We tested the impact of offering financial incentives for mailed fecal immunochemical test (FIT) completion annually for 3 years.


Patients, ages 50 to 64 years, not up-to-date with screening were randomized to receive either a mailed FIT outreach (n = 6,565), outreach plus $5 (n = 1,000), or $10 (n = 1,000) incentive for completion. Patients who completed the test were reinvited using the same incentive the following year, for 3 years. In year 4, patients who returned the kit in all preceding 3 years were reinvited without incentives. Primary outcome was FIT completion among patients offered any incentive versus outreach alone each year. Secondary outcomes were FIT completion for groups offered $5 versus outreach alone, $10 versus outreach alone, and $5 versus $10.


Year 1 FIT completion was 36.9% with incentives versus 36.2% outreach alone (P = 0.59) and was not statistically different for $10 (34.6%; P = 0.31) or $5 (39.2%; P = 0.070) versus outreach alone. Year 2 completion was 61.6% with incentives versus 60.8% outreach alone (P = 0.75) and not statistically different for $10 or $5 versus outreach alone. Year 3 completion was 79.4% with incentives versus 74.8% outreach alone (P = 0.080), and was higher for $10 (82.4%) versus outreach alone (P = 0.033), but not for $5 versus outreach alone. Completion was similar across conditions in year 4 (no incentives).


Offering small incentives did not increase FIT completion relative to standard outreach.


This was the first longitudinal study testing the impact of repeated financial incentives, and their withdrawal, on FIT completion.

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