How Long Do Nudges Last? Positive Behavior Persistence in a Targeted Medicaid Population

This follow-up study assesses the “persistence” of behavioral nudges. That is, without any additional interventions in the target population, could positive effects (such as a change in behavior) still be discerned four months later?

The program level results show that even though no new nudges (i.e. phone calls or direct mail) had gone to members since early September 2015, significant positive lift for ER visits (“lift” in this paper is defined as a reduction in the trial population visits vs. the control group) at the program level was measurable in data through December 2015 (four months later), and nearly significant lift was observed for ER cost. At the same time, the results had clearly degraded from those measured using data through August 2015. ER visit lift was about 35% of its August level while ER cost lift was about 55% of its August level. It is apparent that nudge effects can persist, but not indefinitely