Researchers affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the University of California, San Francisco, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said the study involved doctors practicing in 12 Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics.
Doctors who treated 1,000 patients for high blood pressure received extra payments of $1,648 during a 20-month period. The study found they managed to bring blood pressure under control -- or at least prescribe the proper medications and recommend lifestyle changes -- for an additional 84 patients, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At the end of the clinical trial -- and the extra monetary incentive that came with it -- doctors generally reverted to the kind of treatment they had been providing before the study.
The study focused on high blood pressure but was intended to exam the broader question of how financial incentives affect medical care and treatment.
The added financial incentives evidently motivated doctors to visit a specially established website where they could look at feedback from study coordinators, the Times said.
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