Friday, December 16, 2011

Sometimes It Takes Whatever It Takes

Sometimes It Takes Whatever It Takes

When all else fails, there is always bribery.

Or call it an incentive, if you like.

Either way, getting middle school students to update their vaccines by offering a chance to win a free iPod did the trick, thanks to a nurse in a San Diego County school district.

California law requires that all students in seventh grade and higher must have their diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (TDAP) vaccines or boosters, or present a waiver before starting school. As it turned out, students in San Diego County had the second lowest compliance rate in the state.

It was this statistic that prompted Rotary International in 2010 to challenge San Diego County nurses to promote vaccinations; school nurse Julia Hart-Lawson, RN, with the Carlsbad Union School District near San Diego, accepted that challenge. She recognized, however, that it would take more than a take-home note to motivate families in her district to comply with the state mandate, so she came up with an idea.

Hart-Lawson returned to the local Rotary club and asked them “to consider purchasing iPod Nanos as raffle prizes,” she told the local newspaper. Every student who complied with the vaccination regulations would get a lottery ticket for a chance to win an iPod.

“I wanted to incentivize the Carlsbad Union students and families to comply,” Hart-Lawson said.

The club approved her idea and provided the iPods and the result of the promotion was “a more-than-99-percent compliance, including a perfect 100 percent” at one of the three middle schools – not an easy accomplishment considering the diversity of the district’s population.

So kudos to Hart-Lawson and her team of school nurses who not only understand the importance of making sure students are vaccinated or have their waivers on file, but for coming up with a plan to get that message across.

What do you think of providing incentives or rewards for complying with health mandates or to help in achieving health goals?

Have you seen it work, or not work, in other situations?

Tell us what you think.

1 comment:

Shin said...

I believe that the crusade of giving free incentives is a creative idea that will gather willing and unwilling patients to get a vaccine right away! Thank you for the idea.