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ACC: Gamification Plus Financial Incentives Boost Physical Activity


Greatest effect seen during both the 12-month intervention and at six-month follow-up among patients at high risk for cardiovascular events

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Behaviorally designed gamification and financial incentives boost physical activity in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events, according to a study published online April 7 in Circulation to coincide with the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, held from April 6 to 8 in Atlanta.

Alexander C. Fanaroff, M.D., from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the effect of behaviorally designed gamification, loss-framed financial incentives, or the combination on physical activity versus an attention control during a 12-month intervention and a six-month postintervention period. The analysis included 1,062 participants with clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or a 10-year risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death ≥7.5 percent.

The researchers found that compared with controls, participants randomly assigned to the gamification arm (adjusted difference, 538.0), financial incentives arm (adjusted difference, 491.8), and gamification + financial incentives arm (adjusted difference, 868.0) had significantly greater increases in mean daily steps from baseline during the 12-month intervention. Physical activity remained significantly greater only in the gamification + financial incentives arm versus the control arm during the six-month follow-up (adjusted difference, 576.2).

“These interventions could be a useful component of strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk in high-risk patients,” the authors write.

One author disclosed co-ownership of a behavioral economics consulting firm, VAL Health.

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