International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 114-120

First online:

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander. Guiding Principles for the Use of Financial Incentives in Health Behaviour Change

  • Marita C. LynaghAffiliated withSchool of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle Email author 
  • , Rob W. Sanson-FisherAffiliated withSchool of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle
  • , Billie BonevskiAffiliated withCentre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology (CHeRP), University of Newcastle

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The use of financial incentives or pay-for-performance programs for health care providers has triggered emerging interest in the use of financial incentives for encouraging health behaviour change.


This paper aims to identify key conditions under which the use of financial incentives for improvements in public health outcomes is most likely to be effective and appropriate.


We review recent systematic reviews on their effectiveness in changing health behaviour and identify existing moral concerns concerning personal financial incentives.


Current evidence indicates that incentives can be effective in driving health behaviour change under certain provisos, while a number of misgivings continue to be deliberated on. We outline a number of key principles for consideration in decisions about the potential use of incentives in leading to public health improvements.


These key principles can assist policy makers in making decisions on the use of financial incentives directed at achieving improvements in public health.


Financial incentives Health behaviour Rewards Contingency management