Using behavioural economics to improve adherence to home exercise programs

Review written by Mike Studer info

Key Points

  1. Principles of Behavioral Economics (BE) are intuitive and can be easily applied in a healthcare relationship.
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The combination of behavioral economics (BE) in healthcare and in physiotherapy is an important and timely consideration as we strive to personalize healthcare delivery, as evidenced by the recent article on the same topic, by Studer and Shubert (1).

The authors of the reviewed paper cite the rate of home exercise program (HEP) compliance in a large study by Beinart and colleagues (2) to be about 30% and attributed the following barriers to this dilemma, first cited by Essery and colleagues in 2017 (3): patient attitudes, low self-efficacy and impaired motivation.

This article by Altinger and colleagues offered a practical perspective on how physiotherapists can leverage the science of BE to improve patient adherence to assigned HEP’s. A primary objective of this article was to reduce the incidence of this indifference and non-compliance to HEPs, by leveraging the science of BE.

Compliance to home exercise programs is about 30%, with patient attitudes, low self-efficacy and impaired motivation believed to be the main barriers.
Wielding behavioral economics gives the clinician a more comprehensive understanding of human decision-making, so that we can best personalized our prescriptions.


This paper was an editorial. The authors defined behavioral economics (BE) as a field of knowledge that incorporates psychology, economics and neuroscience in the study of decision-making and human behavior.

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