Measuring and Facilitating Client Engagement with Financial Incentives: Implications for Improving Clinical Outcomes in a Mental Health Setting

Raymond J. Kotwicki, Alexandra M. Balzer, Philip D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Significant numbers of individuals with severe mental illnesses are difficult to engage in treatment services, presenting challenges for care. To be able to assess the relationship between engagement and discharge outcomes, we modified the “Milestones of Recovery Scale”. This scale was modified for content to match the current clinical setting, evaluated for inter-rater reliability after modification in a sample of 233 cases receiving psychiatric rehabilitation, and then was administered to 423 additional psychiatric rehabilitation clients over a 24-month study period. In an effort to determine whether provision of financial incentives lead to sustained increases in client engagement, a cut off for client eligibility for financial incentives was evaluated on the basis of the reliability study and the course of engagement was related to receipt of this incentive and successful completion of treatment in a new sample of 423 patients. Of this sample, 78 % received an initial financial incentive during treatment (were initially engaged), and 93.3 % of that subgroup sustained this level of engagement it over their entire course of treatment. Of the 22 % of cases not receiving an initial incentive, only 5.4 % improved in their engagement to levels required for the incentive. Longitudinal analysis demonstrated that individuals who maintained or increased their level of engagement over time were more likely to complete treatment in accordance with planned treatment goals. The initial engagement and the course of engagement in treatment predicted successful completion, but incentives did not lead to increased engagement in initially poorly engaged patients. These data are interpreted in terms of the likely success of extrinsic rewards to increase engagement in mental health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Engagement
  • Incentives
  • Mental health services
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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