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Financial Incentives Found to Up Colonoscopy Participation

Those offered cash to get cancer screening were twice as likely to do so, researchers say

digestive system

WEDNESDAY, July 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- In a study published recently in Gastroenterology, a cash incentive of $100 was tied to increased colorectal screening rates in eligible adults.

Shivan Mehta, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues enrolled 2,245 people between the ages of 50 and 64. All were eligible for colonoscopy screening. Some received an e-mail asking them to opt in or opt out of a screening colonoscopy (the simple active choice group). Others received an e-mail with the same message plus an offer of $100 if they had a colonoscopy within three months. A third group (the control group) received an e-mail with just a phone number for scheduling a colonoscopy.

The researchers found that after three months, 3.7 percent of those in the $100 offer group had undergone a colonoscopy, compared with 1.6 percent in the control group and 1.5 percent in the simple active choice group. The rate of colonoscopy appointment scheduling was 4.8 percent in the $100 offer group, 2.1 percent in the control group, and 2.0 percent in the simple active choice group.

"Although a $100 incentive seems relatively large, this amount is comparable to what employers already offer for completion of health risk assessments or biometric screening activities," Mehta said in a university news release. "Based on the results, the approach could be applied by employers or insurers to improve existing efforts to reduce the burden of colorectal cancer."

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