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Financial rewards the key to long lives?

Financial rewards the key to long lives?

It would be normal to expect that the promise of a long life free of painful diseases would be enough to help most people ditch bad habits, but it's not. Many continue to smoke, drink too much and some even forget to take medicine which could prolong their time on earth because it doesn't fit in with their lifestyle. Help could be at hand though, as two studies have found that the promise of cold, hard cash does a lot to encourage people to get health conscious.

The first, published in journal Addiction, took in 600 pregnant women who smoked, with all of them getting counselling to help them quit and half also receiving $600 in vouchers. Those who received the financial incentive were much more likely to stay off the nicotine - 22.5 per cent managed to give up, compared to 8.6 per cent of the other group. The trend continued once they'd welcomed their babies into the world too, with 33 per cent relapsing compared to 55 per cent who didn't get the vouchers.

This week (beg09Nov15), the Journal of the American Medical Association detailed research on people's cholesterol. When doctors and their patients with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels were offered money, they did a much better job at reducing it.

Interestingly, if the rewards were only handed to the sufferer or the medical professional, they weren't successful.

Dr. David Asch led the study and is a professor of medicine and executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. He has hailed the results as very important for the treatment of diseases in the future.

"There's an enormous amount of enthusiasm for using financial incentives in healthcare settings," he told CBS News, giving an example of where it could work. "We know from good clinical trials that statins are very effective at reducing your risk of later cardiovascular disease. There's good evidence these things work. There are many generic and inexpensive statins. It's a once-a-day pill and has very low side effects. It's a perfect set-up for great adherence."

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