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Randomized Controlled Trial of Welfare Rights Advice Accessed via Primary Health Care

By: Joan Mackintosh, Martin White, Denise Howel, Tom Chadwick, Suzanne Moffatt, Mark Deverill, Adam Sandell

Little research has directly evaluated the impact of increasing financial or material resources on health. One way of assessing this lies with assisting people to obtain full welfare benefit entitlements. In 2000–1, 2.3 million pensioners were living in poverty in the UK and estimates suggest that around one million do not claim the financial support to which they are entitled. The effectiveness of welfare rights advice services delivered via primary health care to promote health and reduce health inequalities is unknown.

The main objectives of this study were to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a randomized controlled trial of welfare rights advice in a community setting and identify appropriate health and social outcome measures in order to plan a definitive trial.

This was a single blind, community-based, pilot randomized controlled trial. 126 men and women aged 60 years and over, recruited from 4 general practices in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, participated. The intervention comprised a structured welfare rights assessment followed by active assistance with welfare benefit claims over the following 24 months. The control group received the interventionafter a six month delay. A range of socioeconomic, health, behavioral and psycho-social outcomes were measured.

There was little evidence of health-related differences between groups or over time, which could be due to limitations of the study design.  Modification of the study design, including selection of study participants, timing of interventions and length of follow up are recommended for a definitive trial. More appropriate health and psycho-social outcome measures relevant to the elderly population should be sought, particularly focusing on those issues highlighted in the accompanying qualitative study.

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Uploaded on: Dec 11, 2015
Last Updated: May 11, 2017
Year Published: 2006
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