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Financial Incentives for Cancer Screenings Yield Mixed Results

November 06, 2019

Offering financial incentives to primary care providers to boost the rate of cancer screenings may result in small gains for colorectal cancer screening, but the effects are weaker for breast and cervical cancer screenings. Researchers published their findings online in the journal Health Policy. 

[G]eneral practitioners play a key role in increasing the participation rate in cancer screening programs,” researchers wrote. “To improve cancer screening delivery rates, performance incentives have increasingly been implemented in primary care by health care payers and organizations in different countries.” 

To gauge the effect of financial incentives on the delivery rates of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening in general practice, researchers reviewed 18 previously published studies.

Results of the systematic literature review were mixed, researchers reported. Most studies suggested partial or no effect of financial incentives on rates of breast and cervical cancer screening. However, studies found few positive or partial effects for colorectal cancer screening.

In some countries, screening rates for colorectal cancer are still quite low, researchers noted.

“Ongoing monitoring of incentive programs is critical to determining the effectiveness of financial incentives and their effects on the improvement of cancer screening delivery rates,” they wrote. 

Jolynn Tumolo


Mauro M, Rotundo G, Giancotti M. Effect of financial incentives on breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening delivery rates: results from a systematic literature review [published online September 27, 2019]. Health Policy. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2019.09.012


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