This research aims to investigate the relationship between both physical and mental health conditions and employment retention in Scotland. It does this using an innovative combination of Census data linked to prescribing information, hospital admission records and data from the benefit system.

There is a broad policy concern with raising employment rates for those with long-term illness or disability and reducing the number of people who lose employment following the onset of a health problem. Our research has been developed in close collaboration with colleagues at Scottish Government. Our research aims to provide an initial knowledge base for a complex analytics framework and seeksto identify people most at risk of dropping out of employment as a result of a physical and/or mental health condition, in order that appropriate health interventions can be targeted to them.

Key questions

We aim to address the following research questions:

  • What are the factors associated with remaining in employment following the experience or onset of physical/mental health problems?
    • How do they vary by individual characteristics such as age, level of qualifications, occupation or industry, household situation or nature of physical/mental health problem?
    • How do retention rates vary by labour market context (e.g. local unemployment rate)? 
    • What institutional factors – for example, variations in the level or nature of local health services – make a difference to retention rates, and for which groups?
  • For those who lose employment, what factors are associated with movement into the long-term sick (inactive) category rather unemployment?

Data this research aims to link and analyse

  • The first phase of the study will be using Census data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study (the SLS – a 5.3% sample of the population).
  • The second phase will combine SLS Census data with prescribing data from Prescribing Information System (PIS) and hospital admission records from NHS Health Scotland.
  • The third phase will extend the data linkage to cover full Census, prescribing and hospital admission data, and benefit data from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Project lead

Dr Serena Pattaro, University of Glasgow, Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (ADR Scotland).

This project is funded by ADR Scotland via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) as an ADR UK partner.

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