What is the impact on individual health of services in general practice settings which offer welfare benefits advice?

Health Soc Care Community. 2006 Jan;14(1):1-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2005.00582.x.


Welfare benefits advice services are increasingly being provided on primary care premises. It is assumed that the relief of financial deprivation will also relieve ill health, although there is only limited evidence to support this. This paper reports the findings of a study designed to measure changes in individual health associated with income increase as a result of such advice. It was a longitudinal observational study of advice to service users, comparing the health of those whose income increased with that of those whose income did not, using the SF-36 as an outcome measure. The study took place in 2000 and 2001 in seven sites across England, and 345 people were interviewed at base line, 245 after 6 months and 201 after 12 months. Subjects were generally in the second half of life, with one or more chronic conditions. Those who increased their income (the Income Increase group) had significantly better outcomes in mental health and emotional role functioning at 12 months than those with no income increase. There were no other significant differences between groups at 12 months, and none at 6 months. However, if all those who dropped out of the study between 6 and 12 months are excluded, then the same changes observable at 12 months are also recorded at 6 months. Although improvements in health associated with income increase are modest, they make a significant contribution to patients' quality of life. Welfare benefits advice has a role to play as part of holistic care for low-income patients with chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Counseling / organization & administration*
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Welfare / economics*