Monday, June 13, 2011

Very specific plans are motivating

We all have good intentions, but sometimes we need a nudge to turn those intentions into actions. According to a new study, encouraging people to write down the date and time when they plan to get their flu shot increased the number of people who were vaccinated. ...

The researchers analyzed the effects of different reminder mailings sent to those employees of a large utility firm who were considered at risk for the flu. All eligible employees received one of three possible reminder mailings that listed the times and locations of free on-site flu vaccination clinics.

The results of the randomized behavioral intervention appear in the June 13 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

The control group received a mailing listing the times and locations of vaccination clinics. The first treatment group received a mailing that also prompted them to write down the date they planned to be vaccinated; the second treatment group received a mailing that prompted them to write down the date and time they planned to be vaccinated.

The overall vaccination rate among study participants in the control group was 33.1 percent. The rate in the date-plan group increased by 1.5 percentage points relative to the control group. The date-and-time-plan group had a 4.2 percentage point increase relative to the control group.
--NIH press release on my new PNAS paper