Behavioral economics, which integrates ideas and research insights from psychology and economics, has made great strides in understanding the interplay of economic and psychological factors in human motivation and behavior. However, these insights have not generally been applied to improving health behavior and health care delivery, as applying these concepts to health has more inherent challenges than to areas in which economists have natural expertises such as savings and investment behavior. The goal of the proposed Roybal Center is to catalyze and support research that accelerates the translation of insights from behavioral economics to improve health care behaviors and health care delivery. This will be a collaborative effort involving clinical faculty from the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) School of Medicine (SOM) as well as behavioral economists and psychologists from both the Wharton School and School of Arts and Sciences at UPENN and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
Specific aims will be to: 1.) facilitate and support research that advances translation of behavioral economic concepts to improve health behaviors and health care delivery, particularly as pertains to health among the elderly; 2.) work with public and private sector entities to design and test scalable interventions that can improve the health of large populations of patients; 3.) work with public and private sector entities to disseminate our findings and support the implementation of effective interventions. The proposed Center will support a Management and Administrative (Admin) Core and a Pilot Core. The Admin Core will broker relationships with external entities for potential pilots;provide advice on statistical design, cost effectiveness analyses, and statistical programming;develop and provide a common set of measures;provide support for oversight and regulatory compliance;and set up mechanisms to enhance communication such as a dedicated website and twice-yearly research retreats for Center faculty. The initial set of 4 pilot projects are all randomized controlled trials in 'real world'settings that impact the health of elderly Americans, focusing on improving diabetes control among veterans, calorie consumption in restaurants, exercise among the elderly, and flu shot vaccination rates among hospital employees.

Public Health Relevance

Behavioral economics, which integrates ideas and research insights from psychology and economics, has helped improve understanding of human motivation and behavior, but these insights have not systematically been applied to improving health behavior and health care delivery. The proposed Roybal Center will work to use behavior economics to address major public health challenges such as smoking, obesity, and medication non-adherence, using collaboration from social scientists and physicians at UPENN and CMU.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-3 (M2))
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King, Jonathan W
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University of Pennsylvania
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Long, Judith A; Jahnle, Erica C; Richardson, Diane M et al. (2012) Peer mentoring and financial incentives to improve glucose control in African American veterans: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 156:416-24
Klein, Eran; Karlawish, Jason (2010) Challenges and opportunities for developing and implementing incentives to improve health-related behaviors in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 58:1758-63