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Money can be a powerful object it can purchase clothes, cars, a variety of material items. It can even inspire employees to operate harder. A new study looked at the outcome of monetary incentives for both therapists and their patients. In the study, they centered on whether pay-for-performance happens to be an effective way to deal with adolescents who use alcohol or drugs.

To begin, pay-for-performance incentives haven risen in popularity with various health systems. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, allowed researchers to work with therapists who could receive bonuses based on the work they do. They discovered that these therapists were more prone to show better understanding of the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach.

“Pay-for-performance the concept that you are able to tie payment to the quality of healthcare is a movement in the healthcare field, but we don’t realize that much about this,” Dr. Alyna Chien, a researcher in the Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, told Reuters Health.

In total, 986 adolescent patients who used alcohol or marijuana, 29 community-based treatment organizations, and 105 therapists were involved in the study. Each organization ended up being to be under the implementation-as-usual control condition or the pay-for-performance experimental condition. Each organization also received standardized amounts of funding, training, and training.  For individuals who were in the purchase performance group, they received $50 for each month where patients showed progress due to the treatment as well as $200 for each patient who improved because of specific number of treatment procedures and sessions. These procedures included discussions on social life, progress towards specific goals, and assessments of personal happiness.

Therapists who have been area of the pay-for-performance program tended to do better, with 17 percent offering full recommended amount of treatment to participants.

“Relatively small incentives led to large improvements in performance,” researcher Bryan Garner told Reuters Health.

In the accompanying editorial, Chien described how the study is innovative in the concentrate on the treatment of kids, an area that researchers of pay-for-performance hadn´t examined just as much in previous experiments. The study concluded that, despite the fact that therapists receive monetary rewards, this program may not be as effective for patients. The researchers learned that teen participants didn´t have a higher chance of ending their utilization of alcohol and drugs because of pay-for-performance.

“However, differences in care processes did not necessarily translate into desired changes in outcomes: patients receiving care from treatment centers and therapists in the P4P arm of the study weren’t any more likely to remain in remission than patients who were not,” wrote Chien within an editorial that accompanied the content.

Based around the findings, 41 to 51 percent of patients improved within the study and didn’t use drugs or alcohol at least per month before their last meeting. Based on Reuters Health, follow-up data was available for only half to two-thirds of teens and the insufficient data might have influenced the outcomes of the study. Researchers also think that if the study was done with long-term goals, more care could have been presented to patients.

“It’s way too short of the time frame,” commented Chien within the Reuters Health. “It could be that if (therapists) received the incentives and for that reason those providers provided the recommended care for a extended period of time, and you could follow these kids for a longer period of time, you might see a difference.”

Moving forward, researchers believe that more discussions are essential concerning the structure of pay-for-performance programs along with the factors that can make financial incentives effective for patients and therapists.

“We can offer incentives, but they need to be able to be cost-effective,” explained Garner in the Reuters Health article. “The challenge is to find an amount that’s high enough to motivate individuals to change their behavior but low enough to be practical in the real world.”