Health and Health Improvement in Workplaces

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Employment is a major component of adult life and it influences life course, identity, resilience and wellbeing. Work is economically and socially important to individuals, families and communities, as it provides structure, maintains daily activity, and provides support and income.

Workplaces, as physical and social environments, have great potential for creating opportunity, capacity and motivation for behaviour change. They can reinforce and/or reshape social identities, and expose employees to health-damaging or health-enhancing practices and (physical or social) agents.

Over 75% of working age people are in paid work and spend much of their waking time there. At the same time, employers have legislative responsibilities for health and safety and there is a strong business case for investing in appropriately-scaled initiatives to foster health and wellbeing, reduce employee turnover, increase productivity and employee engagement, and contribute to corporate social responsibility.

Our research examines worker health and their ability to work, and the development, implementation and evaluation of workplace interventions to improve health and extend working lives. 

Selected current projects within this workstream include:

  • Understanding the mental health and wellbeing needs of the Scottish Police Workforce. This is a qualitative study to understand the mental health needs of police officers and staff and the operational, organisational and cultural constraints and opportunities for the implementation of a workplace intervention targeting mental health disorders in this workforce.
  • Sickness absence in healthcare workers. Healthcare is one of the employment sectors with significantly higher rates of sickness absence, affecting employee health, healthcare delivery and patient health. This study uses a unique, data-rich and bespoke database that allows for detailed assessment of the impact of musculoskeletal and mental health conditions on absence duration and return-to-work for healthcare employees.
  • Understanding the relationship between employment and health - A UK Biobank Study. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between employment, health, wealth and inequality. We will investigate the occupational determinants of health by looking at employment histories and their impact on physical and mental health and healthy ageing. Within this study, Drushca Lalloo's PhD research titled “The UK Biobank IT professional study” aims to investigate the health and health behaviours of IT professionals and specific health risk factors of IT work.

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