Indexed on: 18 Nov '14Published on: 18 Nov '14Published in: Annals of internal medicine
Rates of patient completion of fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) are often low.To examine whether financial incentives increase rates of FOBT completion.A 2-stage, parallel-design, pragmatic, cluster, randomized, controlled trial with clustering by clinic day (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01516489).Primary care clinic of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.1549 patients who were prescribed an FOBT (unique samples of 713 patients for stage 1 and 836 patients for stage 2).In stage 1, patients were assigned to usual care or receipt of $5, $10, or $20 for FOBT completion. In stage 2, different patients were assigned to usual care or receipt of $5, a 1 in 10 chance of $50, or entry into a $500 raffle for FOBT completion.Primary outcome was FOBT completion within 30 days. Preplanned subgroup analyses examined 30-day FOBT completion by previous nonadherence to a prescribed FOBT.In stage 1, none of the incentives increased rates of FOBT completion. In stage 2, a 1 in 10 chance of $50 increased FOBT completion compared with usual care (between-group difference, 19.6% [95% CI, 10.7% to 28.6%]; P < 0.001) but a $5 fixed payment and entry into a raffle for $500 did not. None of the incentives were more effective among patients who had previously been nonadherent to an FOBT than among patients who had previously completed an FOBT.Single Veterans Affairs medical center setting, short follow-up, use of 3-sample rather than 1-sample immunochemical FOBTs, limited power to detect small effects of incentives, inability to evaluate cost-effectiveness.A 1 in 10 chance of receiving $50 was effective at increasing rates of FOBT completion, but 5 other tested incentives were not.Veterans Affairs Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion.