Financial incentives to promote recommended behaviors have been applied in many healthcare settings, but to our knowledge, have never been tested as a strategy to improve patient follow-up after bariatric surgery. Given that females make up majority of bariatric surgery patients, our goal was to explore female patient perceptions on the effects of a financial incentive program designed to increase follow-up after bariatric surgery.
This was an exploratory qualitative study of patient participants in a pilot program investigating financial incentives. We performed qualitative interviews with female patients to include personal experiences with bariatric surgery, progress toward goals, and concerns related to post-surgical behaviors. The data was analyzed iteratively through inductive thematic analysis.
Twenty-one female patients who had undergone bariatric surgery and enrolled in the financial incentive program participated in this study. Participants had generally positive impressions of the financial incentive program. Participants described the utility of the program in helping to pay for expenses associated with bariatric surgery; feeling that participation was their way of demonstrating that they were compliant with post-surgical recommendations; and that it provided additional motivation. All patients stated that even without the financial incentive they would have continued to follow-up.
While financial incentives can provide additional motivation for patients following bariatric surgery, they are not the primary reason that patients choose to follow-up. Understanding the motivation of patients who choose to follow-up (or not) may better inform investigations intended to improve follow-up rates after bariatric surgery.

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