Co-locating welfare advice services in healthcare settings demonstrates clear financial gains and improved mental health and wellbeing, according to results from a newly published systematic review.
Authors identified 14 studies published from January 2010 to November 2020, and used a theory of change model as an analytical framework against which to map the evidence on how the services work. All studies demonstrated improved financial security for participants, and some studies reported improved mental health for individuals accessing services. Benefits to the health service were demonstrated through reduced workload for healthcare professionals. The study concludes that health and wellbeing is improved by addressing key social determinants of health, and that co-located services provide early intervention for those most in need of support.
WIPH co-author Trevor Sheldon said: “At a time of increasing rates of inflation and fuel bills, the poorest in this country are experiencing greater financial hardship which will further increase health inequalities. Co-location of welfare services in health care settings can provide early intervention for those most in need of support. Our review shows that this not only results in improved financial security but can also improve health and wellbeing. We also find that research so far has a significant under-representation of ethnic minority groups, despite them being amongst those with the greatest need. Further research needs to be conducted to ensure co-located services are best able to reach those most in need and rigorously evaluate the health and social impacts of the services for these groups.”
Sian Reece, Trevor A. Sheldon, Josie Dickerson, Kate E. Pickett. A review of the effectiveness and experiences of welfare advice services co-located in health settings: A critical narrative systematic review. Social Science & Medicine. 2022.