Challenges in evaluating Welfare to Work policy interventions: would an RCT design have been the answer to all our problems?

Skivington, Kathryn; McCartney, Gerry; Thomson, Hilary; Bond, Lyndal
January 2010
BMC Public Health;2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p254
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: UK policy direction for recipients of unemployment and sickness benefits is to support these people into employment by increasing 'into work' interventions. Although the main aim of associated interventions is to increase levels of employment, improved health is stated as a benefit, and a driver of these interventions. This is therefore a potentially important policy intervention with respect to health and health inequalities, and needs to be validated through rigorous impact evaluation.We attempted to evaluate the Pathways Advisory Service intervention which aims to provide employment support for Incapacity Benefit recipients, but encountered a number of challenges and barriers to evaluation. This paper explores the issues that arose in designing a suitable evaluation of the Pathways Advisory Service.Discussion: The main issues that arose were that characteristics of the intervention lead to difficulties in defining a suitable comparison group; and governance restrictions such as uncertainty regarding ethical consent processes and data sharing between agencies for research. Some of these challenges threatened fundamentally to limit the validity of any experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation we could design - restricting recruitment, data collection and identification of an appropriate comparison group. Although a cluster randomised controlled trial design was ethically justified to evaluate the Pathways Advisory Service, this was not possible because the intervention was already being widely implemented. However, this would not have solved other barriers to evaluation. There is no obvious method to perform a controlled evaluation for interventions where only a small proportion of those eligible are exposed. Improved communication between policymakers and researchers, clarification of data sharing protocols and improved guidelines for ethics committees are tangible ways which may reduce the current obstacles to this and other similar evaluations of policy interventions which tackle key determinants of health.Summary: The evaluation of social interventions is hampered by more than their suitability to randomisation. Data sharing, participant identification and recruitment problems are common to randomised and non-randomised evaluation designs. These issues require further attention if we are to learn from current social policy.


Related Articles

  • Aviva pulls workplace savings plans as it reviews spending. Macdonald, Sam // Money Marketing;3/14/2013, p64 

    The article reports on the move by Great Britain-based Aviva to abandon plans to add new workplace savings options to its employee benefits platform Work:Life, which was launched in September 2012.

  • Open culture is key to supporting staff. Mamo, Emma // Employee Benefits;10/1/2015, p44 

    The article presents the author's views on providing a supportive workplace environment to employees.

  • Benefits aren't just bolt-ons.  // Human Resources (Haymarket Media Group Ltd);Sep2010, Special section p3 

    The article focuses on the awareness regarding the availability of range of benefits to employees but also on the provision of the best combination of benefits that is specific to their organisation.

  • Millhiser Smith Agency. Wood, Gigi // Corridor Business Journal;6/23/2014, Vol. 10 Issue 48, p15 

    The article focuses on employee benefit programs offered by insurance agency Millhiser Smith Agency to make better working environment including break room with television, wellness program and flexible schedules of work and also mentions the agency's work to achieve Blue Zones certification.

  • A New Year of Research. Wilson, Michael // Benefits Magazine;Jan2016, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p7 

    An introduction to the issue is presented in which the author discusses the study "Workplace Wellness Trends to Domestic Partner Benefits After the Supreme Court Decision."

  • GYMS & CAPPUCCINOS. Canniffe, Mary // Accountancy Ireland;Dec2000, Vol. 32 Issue 6, p8 

    Focuses on the trends affecting the workplace in Ireland. Shortage of professional and skilled people; Competition in the development of employee packages; Offer of perks such as shopping and physical training facilities; Incentives for sales staff like prizes based on performance.

  • The Disutility of Equity Theory in Contemporary Management Practice. Skiba, Michaeline; Rosenberg, Stuart // Journal of Business & Economic Studies;Fall2011, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p1 

    Equity theory was an important element in the workplace in the second half of the twentieth century, ensuring the fairness of employee reward systems as well as the balance among the business, government, and society sectors. Based on significant changes to each of these sectors in recent years,...

  • Unemployed Texans will be paid past benefits.  // Lakelander (Whitney, TX);7/28/2010, Vol. 24 Issue 30, p6 

    The article reports on the extension of deadline for the qualification of jobless Texans for emergency unemployment benefits in Austin until November 27, 2010.

  • Turning the "Learned Helplessness" Meme Around. KATTENBURG, KATHY // Moderate Voice;5/30/2011, p12 

    A blog from Kathy Kattenburg on unemployment and employment benefits in the U.S. is presented.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics