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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Tessa M. Pollard

Abbas, S.Z., Pollard, T.M., Wynn, P., Learmonth, A., Joyce, K. & Bambra, C. (2015). The effectiveness of using the workplace to identify and address modifiable health risk factors in deprived populations. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 72(9): 664-669.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Objectives
To establish whether a programme of targeted health screening, with referral to appropriate interventions, offered to an employed but socioeconomically deprived group was effective in overcoming barriers to uptake of such services and improving a range of surrogate health markers for participants.

Methods
Low-paid local government employees from socially and economically deprived areas in North-East England were invited to attend a free health check. Health checks were conducted within working hours and close to their worksite, and included assessment of a range of lifestyle and health-related risk factors, including those associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). A range of additional interventions were offered where indicated. Participants were invited to repeat screening approximately 9 months later.

Results
635 (20% response rate) employees in the target age group (≥40 years) attended the first check. Most health risk markers improved in those (N=427) attending both health checks, as did the mean CVD risk score (t=2.86, p=0.004). 269 referrals were made to the intervention programmes.

Conclusions
This workplace programme had a positive impact on cardiovascular health, but attendance rates were low. These findings suggest that workplace health screening activities may have the potential to improve health in a group often considered hard to reach by other routes, but do not offer a straightforward solution in overcoming barriers to access for such subgroups within the working population.