Page 20 - Delaware Medical Journal - February 2017
P. 20

A Sad State of Affairs
 Peter V. Rocca, MD
As a result of a collaborative work
between Harvard University
and the National Bureau of Economic Affairs, Roland G. Fryer, Jr. published an article entitled “Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials.”
The paper summarized the results of
a two year experiment (2007-2009) in which approximately 27,000 public
school students in Chicago, Dallas, and    grades. The students received a total of $9.4 million dollars with the average student receiving $695.61. And the result of this effort, i.e. paying students to study? The “incentive schemes tested
in this paper had, at best, small to  

from the Society for Human Resource Management, roughly 3 percent of employers are now offering their staff a “vacation stipend” on top of their regular pay when they take time off. In other words, employers are paying employees to take vacation and the percentage of employers  Apparently, there are workers who, for one reason or another, elect to not utilize all of their vacation time and employers are paying them extra to do so. In theory, this results in
a “more relaxed employee” who, in turn, is more productive for the company.
In this issue of the DMJ, Washio and colleagues (Community-Initiated
Pilot Program “My Baby’s Breath” to Reduce Prenatal Alcohol Use) describe  pregnant women “at risk for continued drinking ......including...... underage drinking, arrest from driving under   remuneration for abstaining from drinking while pregnant. The small study: “(t)he program has treated
four pregnant mothers so far, with an average of 94 percent compliance rate and provided no alcohol-positive breath samples” is encouraging compared to Fyer’s data. Whether the difference
in outcome between the students and

different sample size of the studies or
a difference in motivation between students and pregnant women is unclear.
At this point, I would like to ask a question: What the heck is going on here? Since when did we become a nation which pays its people to do what we think they are supposed to do? What has happened to individual responsibility? What about doing what is right simply because it is the right thing to do not just for ourselves but also for the community?
Since when did we become a nation which pays its people to do what we think they are supposed to do?
As a physician, I applaud the use of resources for the purpose of medical education. Our patients should know that drinking alcohol during pregnancy  children. I have a problem, however, with using limited resources to pay pregnant mothers not to drink. Should we be paying citizens to wear seat belts while driving? Should we pay them to stay home when it’s raining so they don’t risk being struck by lightning? Where does it end?

great country become a nanny state. Our role as physicians is to educate
our patients of potential environmental hazards. Our role as citizens is to take some responsibility for our own actions and respect the rest of society.
■ PETER V. ROCCA, MD is a Rheumatologist practicing in Newark, Del. and the Editor-in- Chief of the Delaware Medical Journal.
Del Med J | February 2017 | Vol. 89 | No. 2

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