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Health Soc Care Community. 2010 Nov;18(6):598-606. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2010.00929.x.

Employment advice in primary care: a realistic evaluation.

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  • 1Solutions for Public Health, Oxford, UK. gail.pittam@sph.nhs.uk


Every organisation in the UK is affected by mental distress and ill-health in the workforce. The first point of contact for most people with common mental health problems, such as mild to moderate anxiety or depression, is their general practitioner. The location of specialist employment advisers in GP surgeries is therefore a logical attempt to address the issue of people falling out of the workplace, through the provision of early intervention and combined vocational and psychological treatment packages. In 2007 the Richmond Fellowship, a national mental health charity, received a grant to provide four employment advisers to work with GP surgeries in Eastern England. The aim was to help people with mental health problems gain work (Regain clients) or retain their current employment (Retain clients). In this study a realistic evaluation framework was applied to address the question of what works, for whom and in which contexts through interviews with key stakeholders including 22 clients of the project, five primary health care staff and the four employment advisers. The interventions that Retain clients found most helpful were careers guidance (including psychological profiling) and developing strategies to negotiate and communicate with employers. These appeared to help individuals to take control, broaden their horizons and move forward. In many cases this was supported by assistance in helping clients think through whether they wanted to consider a career change. For Regain clients the most important interventions were help with interview skills, CV writing and assertiveness training. Employment outcomes were considerably higher for the Retain clients than for the Regain clients. The study indicates that it could be more effective for Retain and Regain services to be delivered through different care pathways to avoid diluting the services offered and consequently reducing their effectiveness.

© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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