The impact of incentives and competitions on participation and quit rates in worksite smoking cessation programs

Am J Health Promot. 1993 Mar-Apr;7(4):270-80, 295. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-7.4.270.


Purpose: The purpose of this review is to determine whether incentive-based programs conducted at worksites increase participation and long-term smoking cessation rates.

Methods: Published studies of workplace smoking cessation programs involving incentives and competition were identified through all available years up to winter of 1992 in MEDLINE (1966-1992), Psychlit (1967-1992), Smoking and Health (1960-1992), and Combined Health Information (1973-1992) computer databases and article reference lists. Programs were considered incentive programs when they involved either cash or other prizes paid to the participant for quitting smoking. Incentive competition programs typically involve groups contesting for prizes by having the greatest smoking cessation rates. Thirty studies were found, out of which 15 quasi-experimental and experimental studies are reviewed. The 15 studies that did not have comparison groups were excluded from this report.

Results: Only eight studies had a comparison group in which the effects of incentives and competition were separated from the effects of other interventions. Only one study separated the effects of competition from incentives. Five of these studies evaluated smoking rates after six months, and three after 12 months from the program start. Three of these studies showed that incentives increased participation rates, and five enhanced smoking reduction. No study showed, however, that incentives and/or competition enhanced smoking cessation past six months.

Conclusions: It appears that incentives/competition may be useful for increasing participation and smoking reduction. Further research needs to be conducted to determine whether incentives and/or competition enhance long-term quit rates, and what are the most effective types of incentive procedures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Occupational Health Services / methods*
  • Occupational Health Services / trends
  • Occupational Health*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Smoking Cessation*