IES is proud to announce publication of the Health-led Employment Trials Evaluation

Blog posts

20 Apr 2023

Becci Newton

Becci Newton, Director, Public Policy Research

Follow @beccinewton13

The synthesis report from the evaluation of the Health-led Employment Trials has been published today and represents the culmination of effort from over five years for IES and our consortium partners. We established really effective collaboration between ourselves, the Work and Health Unit, and the trial sites – West Midlands Combined Authority and South Yorkshire Combined Authority for service, trial and comprehensive evaluation design. In addition, the consortium worked effectively in taking forward delivery of the evaluation and subsequent analysis.

I particularly want to thank Stephen Bevan our Principal Investigator, who worked diligently to ensure the trial was robust and met the exacting standards of the Health Research Association. None of it would have been possible without the close working relationships established with Natcen, RAND, Learning and Work, and Professor Richard Dorsett from the University of Westminster and it is important to me to celebrate all the staff involved across our teams whose effort got us here.

Some key achievements include:

  • Leading the largest trial of individual placement and support (IPS) that has been seen internationally - recruiting over 9,700 people including a group in work who were struggling as well as those inactive or unemployed
  • Testing IPS in new settings – primary and community care, and with people with mild-to-moderate health conditions
  • Building the ethical framework to enable use of administrative data-sets to measure outcomes which ensured many more of the trial population were covered than if we relied upon a survey
  • Developing the infrastructure for a randomisation tool to work across both sites, embedding eligibility criteria, consent and baseline data collection, as well as post-randomisation monitoring reports
  • Building a comprehensive picture of the intervention and its effect in each site through analysis of the trial data, interim and final surveys, extensive, theory-informed process evaluation and economic assessment
  • Capturing the effect of participation on four primary outcomes: employment, earnings, health and wellbeing
  • Preparing the final, linked data set – capturing surveys, management information and trial outcomes ready for archive in order that researchers in future can use this key resource.

It is notable that while the trials’ populations were regarded as having mild-to-moderate health conditions, multimorbidity – that is the concurrent experience of multiple health conditions, was very common and many recruits had up to six interacting conditions. Many were long term unemployed or inactive – having not worked for two years or more. The trial therefore contains messages about the forms of support that can make a difference to this group.

The results from the trial are complex – the effect on the different primary outcomes vary by site and so a lot of our consideration in bringing together a synthesis of findings from a wide ranging evaluation sought to provide some insight into what could explain this. Underpinning the synthesis is substantial evidence base from all aspects of the evaluation. There are a number of angles to consider which we will aim to elaborate in future blogs. These include messages for employment support models as well as lessons learned and further research needed from leading a comprehensive, high quality evaluation. 

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Any views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute as a whole.