• Led by the University of Bristol, in partnership with Public Health Wales, the University of Bath and Cardiff University
  • Using causal inference methods to assess how health status causally affects social and economic outcomes
  • Will test how health status changes across the life course and between generations and will use evidence synthesis approaches to estimate the social and economic return on maintaining good health
  • Will run for 36 months from April 2018.

This project led by the University of Bristol seeks to improve understanding of the impact of physical and mental health status on social and economic outcomes, and strengthen the evidence on causal links.

Several studies have shown associations between poor health and adverse social and economic outcomes. However, from the available evidence, it is not possible to tell whether health status is affecting socio-economic factors, or if socio-economic factors are affecting health outcomes, or if the relationships are bi-directional.

This project involves taking a broad view of health status, considering multiple factors including obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and depression.

Data will be used from UK Biobank, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and the Early Prediction of Adolescent Depression study. The latter two datasets have repeated measures of multiple mental and physical health factors and social and economic outcomes for parents and children.

The project team will use genetic data to examine the causal links between health status and social and economic outcomes, assessing whether this impact changes across a person’s life. This will identify periods in people’s lives where policy change to maintain or improve population health status is likely to have the greatest effects. There will also be analysis of whether parental health status affects the social and economic outcomes of children.

Qualitative research will explore the mechanisms through which health status affects social and economic outcomes and potential intervention points.

The aim is for the results of the study to help quantify the impact of population health as an ‘asset’ and improve policymakers’ and practitioners’ understanding of the potential benefits of maximising population health, identifying key points across the life course for local and national action.

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Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Laura Howe, Reader in Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University of Bristol.

Further reading

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