By Richard Asinof
It’s easy to start – and difficult to stop – smoking cigarettes.
In large part, it’s because cigarettes are designed to be an effective tool in delivering nicotine, an addictive substance, into our bodies.
Most wellness program in the workplace have a smoking cessation program.
In June, Care New England began a six-month pilot of an innovative smoking cessation program for its health plan members, integrating Pro-Change’s evidence-based behavior change program with VAL Health’s unique approach to incentives.
Pro-Change describes its program as being built “for smokers who are not ready to quit, getting ready to quite, in the process of quitting and staying quit.”
The program is integrated with VAL Health Rewards, which applies the principles of behavioral economics to improve the outcomes.
Providence Business News asked Domenic Delmonico, senior vice president of managed care contracting and network management at Care New England, to describe the program and the results so far.
PBN: How have text messages proven to be an effective tool for Care New England's smoking cessation program for employees and families?
DELMONICO: The program just started on June 17. We are relying upon the Pro-Change research that has found a 10 percentage-point increase in the quit rate for participants who received the text messages.
PBN: How do you measure whether people are ready to make changes in behavior? Are there specific metrics?
DELMONICO: The program is designed specifically around the participant's readiness to change. We give a $100 registration reward for those who sign up and complete an initial questionnaire. The results enable us to determine the individual’s stage of readiness and the program design.
PBN: What does the hospital network hope to learn from its confidential six-month pilot program, which currently has about 181 employees enrolled?
DELMONICO: Let me first clarify that the confidentiality aspect is related to the participants’ identities, not the program or its results. Our goal for the program is to help participants move along the path to quitting, but also to determine if this approach to combining effective behavior change tools and innovative incentive design is successful. The folks from Pro-Change and VAL Health have suggested that we consider this approach for other wellness programs such as exercise or healthy eating.
PBN: Does Care New England plan to share the results with other workplaces and offer support for similar smoking cessation programs?
DELMONICO: We will be very happy to share all aspects of the program (other than participant information) with any other interested groups. This question and related answer are the specific areas of expertise for VAL Health Rewards, our other expert advisor. Their research has guided development of this program including the very unique “regret contest.”
There are weekly drawings for all registered participants. However, if you are drawn and have not completed the on line assignment, we inform you that you would have won if you had done what you were supposed to do. This regret contest has been proven in the research to be a very powerful motivator.