Effectiveness of monetary incentives for recruiting adolescents to an intervention trial to reduce smoking

Brian C. Martinson, DeAnn Lazovich, Harry A Lando, Cheryl L. Perry, Paul G. McGovern, Raymond G. Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background. The study objective is to evaluate the effect of monetary incentives on response rates of adolescents to a smoking-related survey as the first step toward participation in an intervention trial. Methods. A sample of 4,209 adolescent members of a managed care organization were randomized to one of four incentive groups: A $2 cash group, a $15 cash group, a $200 prize drawing group, or a no-incentive group. We compared group-specific response rates and willingness to be contacted about future study activities, as well as costs. Results. Incentives increased survey response rates (55% response without incentive vs a 69% response with incentive), with response of 74% in the $15 cash group, 69% in the token group, and 63% with a prize incentive. Incentives did not adversely affect willingness of adolescents to be contacted about a smoking intervention, (65% willing with incentives vs 60% without, P = 0.03). In terms of cost per additional survey completed, token and prize groups were marginally more expensive than the no-incentive group ($0.40 and $1.42, respectively) while the large cash incentive was substantially more costly ($11.37). Conclusions. Monetary incentives improve response rates to a mailed survey, without adverse impact on willingness to further participate in intervention activities. However, a variety of issues must be considered when using incentives for recruitment to intervention studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-713
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Adolescence
  • Costs and cost analysis
  • Data collection
  • Health surveys
  • Motivation
  • Patient selection
  • Smoking
  • Smoking cessation


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