Evaluation of the mental health impacts of universal credit: protocol for a mixed methods study

Craig, P. et al. (2022) Evaluation of the mental health impacts of universal credit: protocol for a mixed methods study. BMJ Open, 12(4), e061340. (doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061340) (PMID:35396318) (PMCID:PMC8996017)

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Abstract

Introduction: The UK social security system is being transformed by the implementation of Universal Credit (UC), which combines six existing benefits and tax credits into a single payment for low-income households. Despite extensive reports of hardship associated with the introduction of UC, no previous studies have comprehensively evaluated its impact on mental health. Because payments are targeted at low-income households, impacts on mental health will have important consequences for health inequalities. Methods and analysis: We will conduct a mixed methods study. Work package (WP) 1 will compare health outcomes for new recipients of UC with outcomes for legacy benefit recipients in two large population surveys, using the phased rollout of UC as a natural experiment. We will also analyse the relationship between the proportion of UC claimants in small areas and a composite measure of mental health. WP2 will use data collected by Citizen’s Advice to explore the sociodemographic and health characteristics of people who seek advice when claiming UC and identify features of the claim process that prompt advice-seeking. WP3 will conduct longitudinal in-depth interviews with up to 80 UC claimants in England and Scotland to explore reasons for claiming and experiences of the claim process. Up to 30 staff supporting claimants will also be interviewed. WP4 will use a dynamic microsimulation model to simulate the long-term health impacts of different implementation scenarios. WP5 will undertake cost–consequence analysis of the potential costs and outcomes of introducing UC and cost–benefit analyses of mitigating actions. Ethics and dissemination: We obtained ethical approval for the primary data gathering from the University of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee, application number 400200244. We will use our networks to actively disseminate findings to UC claimants, the public, practitioners and policy-makers, using a range of methods and formats. Trial registration number: The study is registered with the Research Registry: researchregistry6697.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding This research is supported by the UK National Institute of Health Research Public Health Research Programme, grant number NIHR131709. PC, MG and SVK acknowledge funding from the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/2) and Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU17). SVK acknowledges funding from a NRS Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCAF/15/02) and the European Research Council (949582). CB and MC acknowledge funding from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria (NIHR200173), and CB from the National Prevention Research Initiative for the Systems science in Public Health and Health Economics Research consortium (MR/ S037578/1). LAM and MS acknowledge funding from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for Greater Manchester (NIHR200174). SW acknowledges funding from a Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics Research Fellowship (200335/Z/15/Z). BB and DT-R are funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR), Grant Reference Number PD-SPH-2015. DT-R is also funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) on a Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/P008577/1). BB is also supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North West Coast (NIHR200182).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Professor Vittal and Craig, Professor Peter and Gibson, Dr Marcia and Baxter, Dr Andy
Authors: Craig, P., Barr, B., Baxter, A. J., Brown, H., Cheetham, M., Gibson, M., Katikireddi, S. V., Moffatt, S., Morris, S., Munford, L., Richiardi, M., Sutton, M., Robinson, D. T., Wickham, S., Xiang, H., and Bambra, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMJ Open
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:2044-6055
ISSN (Online):2044-6055
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022
First Published:First published in BMJ Open 12(4):e061340
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
310618Evaluation of the health impacts of Universal Credit: a mixed methods studyPeter CraigNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR)NIHR131709HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit