News and events Tilburg University

Koen van der Swaluw awarded Best Public Health Dissertation Prize

Published: 17th April 2019 Last updated: 09th May 2019

During the Dutch Public Health Congress 2019 Dr. Koen van der Swaluw (1990) received the first prize (shared) in the competition for the best Public Health dissertation 2018.

In December 2018 Koen successfully defended his PhD thesis at Tilburg University entitled 'Commitment Lotteries, Overcoming procrastination or lifestyle improvement with regret aversion'. Commitment Lotteries encourage visitors of fitness centers to achieve their exercise goals. Professor Johan Polder (TSB) and professor Henriette Prast (TiSEM/Netspar) supervised his dissertation back then.

Commitment lottery

Koen showed that there indeed is an effective way to keep people exercising. A lottery also proves to be an excellent method for people who have difficulty keeping up with regular sports.

Van der Swaluw examined 163 obese people who had set a clear goal in advance: exercising twice a week for 26 weeks. Some of the participants took part in a specially developed lottery, where they could win a cash prize or a holiday under one condition: winners were only allowed to keep their prize if they had achieved their goal.


Koen studied at Tilburg University and Utrecht University. He is currently a researcher in behavioral economics at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) involved with  changing behavior related to health, environment and safety issues (nudging).

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