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Following Through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts

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  • Katherine L. Milkman
  • John Beshears
  • James J. Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract

We study whether prompts to form and recall a plan can increase individuals’ responsiveness to reminders to make and attend beneficial appointments. At four companies, all employees due for a colonoscopy were randomly assigned to receive either a control mailing or a treatment mailing. The mailings were identical except that the control mailing included a blank sticky note while the treatment mailing included a sticky note that prompted the recipient to write down the appointment date for a colonoscopy and the name of the doctor who would conduct the procedure. During the seven-month follow-up period, 7.2% of treatment employees received a colonoscopy compared to 6.2% of control employees, a statistically significant difference that is roughly equal to the variation in compliance associated with a 10 percent increase in the fraction of the procedure’s cost covered by insurance. The treatment effect was largest for demographic groups judged to be at the highest risk of failing to receive a colonoscopy due to forgetfulness.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17995.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Publication status: published as Milkman, Katherine L., John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte C. Madrian. "Planning Prompts as a Means of Increasing Preventive Screening Rates." Preventive Medicine 56, no. 1 (January 2013): 92–93.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17995

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  1. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Katherine L. Milkman & John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2011. "Using Implementation Intentions Prompts to Enhance Influenza Vaccination Rates," NBER Working Papers 17183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bamberg, Sebastian, 2002. "Implementation intention versus monetary incentive comparing the effects of interventions to promote the purchase of organically produced food," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 573-587, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Steffen Altmann & Christian Traxler, 2012. "Nudges at the Dentist," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_15, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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