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Findings Series 16 - Working for a Healthier Life research report

Date: July 2008
Category: Briefing Paper
Author: GCPH

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This paper describes the aims and purpose, approach and methods, and some of the key findings/recommendations of a study commissioned by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health on the impact of employment on the health of individuals.

There is a body of evidence about the impact of unemployment on health, but perhaps less research on the impact of employment on health.  This study set out to assess the impact of employment on the health of individuals, including their wellbeing, health behaviours and demands on health services.  It also aimed to identify the way in which key services, delivered both individually and alongside other services, have been instrumental in moving people with health issues towards and into employment, and helping to sustain and progress them once in employment. 

Some of the key findings are:

  • Participants who were previously unemployed because they faced a health barrier, showed that they generally rated their health in work more positively than when they were unemployed.
  • Although a small proportion of those interviewed reported no improvements in health or a deterioration in health, nearly three quarters of these reported that there were broader benefits of being in work, such as feeling better about themselves.
  • There were some positive changes in health behaviours when people got a job including increases in physical activity and healthier eating.
  • Just over 60% of people were visiting their GP less often once re-employed.  This was generally because they were feeling better. 
  • People welcomed the opportunity to discuss work with people who were giving them support.  This coupled with the right kinds of financial incentives and continued support can lead to a successful and sustained return to work.