Conference Paper Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
The impact on mental and physical health of employment and welfare transitions for those claiming sickness benefits in UK
22 Jul 2015
With the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replacing Incapacity Benefit (IB), UK welfare reforms have sought to reduce sickness benefit claimant numbers and increase employment among this group. However, there is little objective evidence regarding the health impact of transitions to employed or unemployed status for sickness benefit claimants, or the health impact of transitions from IB to ESA. Treatment and control groups were constructed for each transition using longitudinal data from four Waves of Understanding Society. A difference-in-difference approach was used to compare change in health (SF-12 physical and mental component summary scores) between groups. Sensitivity analyses utilised propensity score matching to adjust for baseline group differences.
Transitions from sickness benefits to employment (n= 124) were associated with an improvement in the SF12 mental health score of 5.94 points (95% CI 3.52 to 8.36), and an improvement in the physical health score of 2.83 points (95% CI 0.85 to 4.81) compared with those remaining on sickness benefits (n= 1545). Transitions to unemployed status (n= 153) were associated with a significant improvement in mental health but not physical health (3.14, 95% CI 1.17 to 5.11; 0.24, 95% CI -1.61 to 2.08 respectively). No statistically significant changes in mental or physical health were associated with transitions from IB to ESA (n= 122) compared with those who remained on IB (n= 1163). Sensitivity analyses using propensity matching did not substantially change findings with ongoing analyses of whether the results are robust to common trends assumption and time varying confounding.