Health, work and wellbeing – evidence and research

Evidence, research and policy papers related to the health, work and wellbeing initiative

This page explains the background to the health, work and wellbeing initiative and lists the evidence, research, independent reports and policy papers that support it.

The health, work and wellbeing initiative began in 2005 with the publication of Health, work and wellbeing: caring for our future a strategy for the health and well-being of working age people.

Is work good for your health and well-being?

DWP commissioned a scientific evidence review of the links between health, work and wellbeing – Is work good for your health and well-being? An independent review – Gordon Waddell and A Kim Burton – 2006.

Working for a healthier tomorrow

In 2008, Dame Carol Black produced her report into the health of Britain’s working age population – Working for a healthier tomorrow. The government response – Improving health and work: changing lives – introduced a number of initiatives to test what would work, including the:

Because mental health problems have a greater impact on people’s ability to work than any other group of disorders, the review team commissioned a supplementary report on Mental health and work.

In 2008 we also published a scientific evidence review – Vocational rehabilitation: What works, for whom, and when? – Gordon Waddell, A Kim Burton, Nicholas AS Kendall.

Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence

In 2011, the government asked Dame Carol and David Frost to review the sickness absence system and make recommendations for improvement. The government accepted a number of the recommendations, including the introduction of an occupational health assessment and advice service to help people off sick for 4 weeks to get back to work.

Facts and figures

More than 2.5 million people claim health-related benefits (Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance – 2013/14 data), costing the government £12 billion a year. Employers pay an annual bill of around £9 billion for sick pay and associated costs. Information about the costs of sickness was included in Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence.

We know that people with long-term health conditions can and do work. Over a quarter of the 28 million people in work in this country have a long-term condition or impairment.

Evidence shows that 90% of people with common health conditions can be helped back to work following a few basic principles of good healthcare and workplace management. For many people, returning to work can be part of their recovery.

More information

There is more information about the health, work and wellbeing initiative in our policy about helping people to find and stay in work.

Research and analysis

Policy papers

Independent reports


Published 25 June 2013
Last updated 20 January 2014 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Psychological wellbeing and work: improving service provision and outcomes' to collection.

  2. First published.