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The role of time and risk preferences in adherence to physician advice on health behavior change

Marjon van der Pol (), Deirdre Hennessy and Braden Manns
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Deirdre Hennessy: Statistics Canada
Braden Manns: University of Calgary

The European Journal of Health Economics, 2017, vol. 18, issue 3, No 9, 373-386

Abstract: Abstract Changing physical activity and dietary behavior in chronic disease patients is associated with significant health benefits but is difficult to achieve. An often-used strategy is for the physician or other health professional to encourage behavior changes by providing advice on the health consequences of such behaviors. However, adherence to advice on health behavior change varies across individuals. This paper uses data from a population-based cross-sectional survey of 1849 individuals with chronic disease to explore whether differences in individuals’ time and risk preferences can help explain differences in adherence. Health behaviors are viewed as investments in health capital within the Grossman model. Physician advice plays a role in the model in that it improves the understanding of the future health consequences of investments. It can be hypothesized that the effect of advice on health behavior will depend on an individuals’ time and risk preference. Within the survey, which measured a variety of health-related behaviors and outcomes, including receipt and compliance with advice on dietary and physical activity changes, time preferences were measured using financial planning horizon, and risk preferences were measured through a commonly used question which asked respondents to indicate their willingness to take risks on a ten-point scale. Results suggest that time preferences play a role in adherence to physical activity advice. While time preferences also play a role in adherence to dietary advice, this effect is only apparent for males. Risk preferences do not seem to be associated with adherence. The results suggest that increasing the salience of more immediate benefits of health behavior change may improve adherence.

Keywords: Adherence; Time preference; Risk preference (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D91 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s10198-016-0800-7

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