A Review of the Literature on Remote Monitoring Technology in Incentive-Based Interventions for Health-Related Behavior Change

Transl Issues Psychol Sci. 2016 Jun;2(2):128-152. doi: 10.1037/tps0000067.


Use of technology (e.g., Internet, cell phones) to allow remote implementation of incentives interventions for health-related behavior change is growing. To our knowledge, there has yet to be a systematic review of this literature reported. The present report provides a systematic review of the controlled studies where technology was used to remotely implement financial incentive interventions targeting substance use and other health behaviors published between 2004 and 2015. For inclusion in the review, studies had to use technology to remotely accomplish one of the following two aims alone or in combination: (a) monitor the target behavior, or (b) deliver incentives for achieving the target goal. Studies also had to examine financial incentives (e.g., cash, vouchers) for health-related behavior change, be published in peer-reviewed journals, and include a research design that allowed evaluation of the efficacy of the incentive intervention relative to another condition (e.g., non-contingent incentives, treatment as usual). Of the 39 reports that met inclusion criteria, 18 targeted substance use, 10 targeted medication adherence or home-based health monitoring, and 11 targeted diet, exercise, or weight loss. All 39 (100%) studies used technology to facilitate remote monitoring of the target behavior, and 26 (66.7%) studies also incorporated technology in the remote delivery of incentives. Statistically significant intervention effects were reported in 71% of studies reviewed. Overall, the results offer substantial support for the efficacy of remotely implemented incentive interventions for health-related behavior change, which have the potential to increase the cost-effectiveness and reach of this treatment approach.

Keywords: contingency management; drug use; financial incentives; health behaviors; remote monitoring; substance abuse; technology.