Systematic review on use of health incentives in U.S. to change maternal health behavior

Use of financial incentives contingent on health outcomes has shown effective in health behavior change. Evidence-based information on the effect of incentive use for maternal health behavior change can inform whether and how to proceed with future research as well as incorporate incentive-based interventions in the existing healthcare system. This systematic literature review was conducted among prospective studies on incentive use for maternal health behavior change in a U.S. cohort according to the PRISMA methodology. Databases subject to the search included PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and EBSCOhost. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals on or before January 7, 2019, written in English, conducted in U.S., using incentives contingent on maternal health behavior change, and prospectively designed were included. Two authors independently searched titles and abstracts. An abstraction table was constructed, and the risk of bias was assessed using the GRADE approach. The review showed that incentives such as vouchers and other financial incentives were effective in improving outcomes especially related to substance use, tobacco use, and breastfeeding. Mixed evidence was found in improving treatment adherence outcomes; however the studies with randomized trials on the outcome of treatment adherence also showed low certainty. Continued improvements need to be made in implementing an incentive-based approach in the context of comprehensive treatment and routine healthcare, exploring electronic- or mobile-based implementation of the approach, and implementing the approach for a wider variety of outcomes during both prenatal and postpartum periods.


Washio Y, Atreyapurapu S, Hayashi Y, Taylor S, Chang K, Ma T, Isaacs K. Systematic review on use of health incentives in U.S. to change maternal health behavior. Prev Med. 2021 Apr;145:106442. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106442. Epub 2021 Jan 27. PMID: 33515587; PMCID: PMC7956068.