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A systematic review of health, social and financial impact of welfare rights advice in a healthcare setting

State funded welfare programmes of financial benefits and benefits in kind for, amongst others, the unemployed, the elderly and the sick are common in developed countries.However, interventions to overcome socio-economic variations in health have achieved little success. One potential method of improving the health of the most deprived groups is to increase their income. Despite a number of income supplementation experiments – particularly in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s – little investigation of the impact of these experiments on health has been performed.  There is evidence of widespread under claiming of welfare benefits by those eligible for them, with take up of income related benefits in the UK around 80% in 2002. Take up rates in the rest of Europe are around 40–80% with generally lower rates in the USA. One method of exploring the health effects of income supplementation is, therefore, to measure the health effects of welfare benefit maximisation programmes.  We conducted a systematic review of the health, social and financial impacts of welfare rights advice delivered in healthcare settings.

55 studies were included in the review. Only seven studies included a comparison or control group. There was evidence that welfare rights advice delivered in healthcare settings results in financial benefits. There was little evidence that the advice resulted in measurable health or social benefits. This is primarily due to lack of good quality evidence, rather than evidence of an absence of effect.  There are good theoretical reasons why income supplementation should improve health, but currently little evidence of adequate robustness and quality to indicate that the impact goes beyond increasing income.


Uploaded on: Dec 11, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2015
Year Published: 2006

Resource Tags

Resource Type: Impact Evidence Issues: Community Paralegals, Health, Legal Aid & Public Interest Law Tool Type: Reports / Research, Training Resources & Popular Education Languages: English Regions: Europe, North America Nature of Impact: Acquisition of Remedy / Entitlement / Information, Impact on Health, Impact on Income, Legal Knowledge and Skills Institutions Engaged: NGOs, Service Delivery Agencies Evaluation Method: Case Studies