The Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH) will be dedicated to researching relationships between personal behavior patterns and risk for chronic disease and premature death. Central to this important relationship between personal behavior and disease risk is behavioral choice;that is, the challenge of understanding scientifically why individuals often persist in making choices that undermine their long-term best interest, what can be done to prevent people from acquiring these unhealthy behavior patterns, and how to promote change among those who have already done so. Research in behavioral economics has demonstrated that people have a number of biases in their decision-making that can predict when and why individuals will persist in unhealthy behavior patterns. Scientific work has also demonstrated that therapeutic interventions that take advantage of these biases, like incentive-based interventions, can be highly effective. While these are positive developments in many ways, it is also the case that interest in the use of financial incentives is now outpacing the scientific knowledge base and in many instances, efficacy studies have simply not yet been conducted. Thus, there is a challenge is to ensure that efficacy testing and scientific knowledge keeps pace with expanding application of financial incentives. Hence, the mission of the Collaboration, Dissemination, and Education (CDE) Core is two-fold. First, the core will put the existing research into practice by collaborating directly with Vermont's healthcare community, disseminating scientific knowledge to other institutions impacted by poor health choices (e.g., businesses), and educating the next generation of scientists. Simultaneously, the core will develop and nurture new research on the relationship between behavior and health, collaborating with research partners in other IDeA states. These data will be used to garner further research support to deepen our understanding of decision making about health behaviors, how better to prevent and intervene regarding poor health choices especially among disadvantaged populations, and of the cost effectiveness of doing so, perpetually renewing the cycle of collaboration, dissemination, and education.
The Collaboration, Dissemination, and Education Core will spread existing knowledge about the use of incentive-based interventions while at the same time doing new, cutting-edge research that will further increase the impact of these types of treatments.
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