BMC Public Health (Jan 2023)

Lottery incentives for smoking cessation at the workplace: design and protocol of the smoke-free lottery - a cluster randomized trial

  • Koen van der Swaluw,
  • Marieke Hiemstra,
  • Mattijs Lambooij,
  • Eline Roordink,
  • Nina van der Vliet,
  • Else Zantinge,
  • Karin Proper,
  • Marcel Zeelenberg,
  • Henriette M. Prast

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


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Abstract Background Smoking is the leading behavioral risk factor for the loss of healthy life years. Many smokers want to quit, but have trouble doing so. Financial incentives in workplace settings have shown promising results in supporting smokers and their design influences their impact. Lotteries that leverage behavioral economic insights might improve the effectiveness of workplace cessation support. Methods and design We examine in a cluster randomized trial if a workplace cessation group training paired with lottery deadlines will increase continuous abstinence rates over and above the cessation training alone. Organizations are randomized to either the control arm or lottery arm. The lotteries capitalize regret aversion by always informing winners at the deadline, but withholding prizes if they smoked. In the lottery-arm, winners are drawn out of all participants within a training group, regardless of their smoking status. In weeks 1-13 there are weekly lotteries. Winners are informed about their prize (€50), but can only claim it if they did not smoke that week, validated biochemically. After 26 weeks, there is a long-term lottery where the winners are informed about their prize (vacation voucher worth €400), but can only claim it if they were abstinent between weeks 13 and 26. The primary outcome is continuous abstinence 52 weeks after the quit date. Discussion There is a quest for incentives to support smoking cessation that are considered fair, affordable and effective across different socioeconomic groups. Previous use of behavioral economics in the design of lotteries have shown promising results in changing health behavior. This cluster randomized trial aims to demonstrate if these lotteries are also effective for supporting smoking cessation. Therefore the study design and protocol are described in detail in this paper. Findings might contribute to the application and development of effective cessation support at the workplace. Trial registration Netherlands Trial Register Identifier: NL8463 . Date of registration: 17-03-2020.