Condition category
Circulatory System
Date applied
24/02/2016
Date assigned
29/02/2016
Last edited
26/02/2016
Prospective/Retrospective
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Completed
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
This study examines whether a financial incentive (gaining money) or a charitable incentive (a donation to a charitable organization) can motivate people to increase their daily physical activity. Daily physical activity has proven to be beneficial to prevent different chronic diseases such as obesity or diabetes. We used a step counter (pedometer) to measure physical activity.

Who can participate?
Customers of a large Swiss health insurance company registered in a complementary insurance program. They should be healthy and at least 18 years old.

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of three different groups, according to their canton (state of residence), i.e. all participants living in a particular canton are placed in the same group. They are all given a pedometer and are instructed to achieve 10.000 steps per day on average each month. Participants in group 1 receive money if they reach their goal. Participants in group 2 also receive money but have the option of donating if they wish. Participants in group 3 receive no incentive.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
By taking part in the study participants can benefit from all positive effects associated with physical activity such as prevention of chronic diseases, improved health and well-being. Depending on the state of their health, participants might eventually encounter negative effects due to increased physical activity. However, people who are at risk of being negatively affected by physical activity do not fulfil the eligibility requirements of the study.

Where is the study run from?
Health-IS lab of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and the ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
July 2015 to December 2015

Who is funding the study?
1. CSS Insurance (Switzerland)
2. Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
3. University of St. Gallen (Switzerland)

Who is the main contact?
Tobias Kowatsch

Trial website

Contact information

Type

Scientific

Primary contact

Mr Tobias Kowatsch

ORCID ID

Contact details

Health IS Lab
Institute of Technology Management
University of St. Gallen
Dufourstrasse 40a
St. Gallen
9000
Switzerland

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

ClinicalTrials.gov number

Protocol/serial number

N/A

Study information

Scientific title

Effects of charitable versus monetary incentives on the acceptance and continued use of a pedometer based health intervention: study protocol of a cluster-randomized controlled trial

Acronym

Study hypothesis

The following research questions are addressed in our study:
1. Do financial and/or charitable incentives enhance the acceptance of and adherence to a pedometer based health intervention compared to a non-incentive control group?
2. Does a pedometer-based health intervention improve participants' subjective and objective measures of health status?
3. How does the participation in a pedometer-based health intervention affect the participants' perception of the provider of the intervention?
4. How do financial and charitable incentives affect the participants' perception of the provider of the intervention?

Ethics approval

Ethics Committee of the University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 17/02/2016, ref: HSG-EC-2015-04-22-A

Study design

Longitudinal three arm cluster-randomized controlled trial

Primary study design

Interventional

Secondary study design

Cluster randomised trial

Trial setting

Home

Trial type

Prevention

Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet

Condition

Non-communicable diseases that can be affected by physical activity (for example, cardiovascular diseases or diabetes)

Intervention

Participants used a pedometer to track their daily physical activity. Two different incentive strategies are compared with a control-group that receives no incentives.

In the financial incentive condition, participants receive a financial reward each month they achieve a physical activity goal that is associated with a health promoting lifestyle (10,000 steps per day on average) and a smaller reward if they achieve a physical activity goal that is associated with the physical activity minimum for a health promoting lifestyle (7,500 steps per day on average).

Participants in the charitable condition receive the same reward but can decide whether to keep the money or donate it to a charitable organization.

Participants in the control condition receive no incentives over the first half of the intervention. In the second half they get the opportunity to receive a financial reward that is twice the size of the reward in the financial incentive condition. That way, participants of all three groups have the chance to receive the same amount of money over the course of the intervention.

Intervention type

Behavioural

Phase

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Participation rate (method: number of registered participants; timepoint: beginning of the intervention)

Secondary outcome measures

1. Adherence to the intervention, assessed as number of days participants shared their number of steps, continuously measured over the course of the intervention
2. Participants' performance, assessed by number of steps walked per day, amount of money earned / donated, continuously measured over the course of the intervention
3. Subjective health status, assessed by questionnaire, at the beginning and at the end of the intervention
4. Objective health status, assessed by service billing of the participants insurance company over the period of the intervention and over three months after the intervention
5. Perception of the provider of the intervention, assessed by questionnaire at the beginning and at the end of the intervention

Overall trial start date

04/06/2015

Overall trial end date

31/12/2015

Reason abandoned

Eligibility

Participant inclusion criteria

1. Participants have to be at least 18 years of age
2. Registered in a complementary insurance program
3. Acceptance of data security and participation conditions
4. Declaration of adequate health status for participation

Participant type

Healthy volunteer

Age group

Adult

Gender

Both

Target number of participants

N = 1407, number of clusters = 26, n = 54 participants per cluster on average

Participant exclusion criteria

1. Under 18 years of age
2. Not registered in a complementary insurance program
3. No acceptance of data security and participation conditions
4. No declaration of adequate health status for participation

Recruitment start date

04/06/2015

Recruitment end date

30/06/2015

Locations

Countries of recruitment

Switzerland

Trial participating centre

Health IS Lab, University of St. Gallen
St. Gallen
9000
Switzerland

Trial participating centre

ETH Zurich
Zurich
-
Switzerland

Sponsor information

Organisation

Health IS Lab

Sponsor details

Dufourstrasse 40a
St. Gallen
9000
Switzerland

Sponsor type

Research organisation

Website

Funders

Funder type

Not defined

Funder name

CSS Insurance

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype

Location

Funder name

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Alternative name(s)

Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, ETH Zürich, ETH

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

academic

Location

Switzerland

Funder name

Universität St. Gallen

Alternative name(s)

University of St. Gallen, HSG

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

academic

Location

Switzerland

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not expected to be available

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes