Physical activity after commitment lotteries: examining long-term results in a cluster randomized trial

Koen van der Swaluw*, Mattijs S. Lambooij, Jolanda J.P. Mathijssen, Maarten Schipper, Marcel Zeelenberg, Stef Berkhout, Johan J. Polder, Henriëtte M. Prast

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To overcome self-control difficulties, people can commit to their health goals by voluntarily accepting deadlines with consequences. In a commitment lottery, the winners are drawn from all participants, but can only claim their prize if they also attained their gym-attendance goals. In a 52-week, three-arm trial across six company gyms, we tested if commitment lotteries with behavioral economic underpinnings would promote physical activity among overweight adults. In previous work, we presented an effective 26-week intervention. In the present paper we analyzed maintenance of goal attainment at 52-week follow-up and the development of weight over time. We compared weight and goal attainment (gym attendance ≥ 2 per week) between three arms that—in the intervention period- consisted of (I) weekly short-term lotteries for 13 weeks; (II) the same short-term lotteries in combination with an additional long-term lottery after 26 weeks; and (III) a control arm without lottery-deadlines. After a successful 26-week intervention, goal attainment declined between weeks 27 and 52 in the long-term lottery arm, but remained higher than in the control group. Goal attainment did not differ between the short-term lottery arm and control arm. Weight declined slightly in all arms in the first 13 weeks of the trial and remained stable from there on. Commitment lotteries can support regular gym attendance up to 52 weeks, but more research is needed to achieve higher levels of maintenance and weight loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-493
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Acknowledgements This study was funded by the Strategic Program of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (Grant Number S13300101WL). We thank High Five Health Promotion and the Dutch State Lottery for their comprehensive cooperation.

FundersFunder number
National Institute for Public Health and EnvironmentS13300101WL


    • Behavior change
    • Behavioral economics
    • Commitment devices
    • Deadlines
    • Physical activity
    • Prevention


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