Research Questions

  1. What is the level of spend on work and health research in the UK since 2015?
  2. What is this spent on, in terms of type of research and topic?
  3. What are the main priorities for future work and health research emerging from interviews?

This report sets out the findings of a study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to map the landscape of funding for research in work and health in the UK since 2015. This study responds to results of Health is everyone's business consultations by the DHSC and Department for Work and Pensions and aims to help all stakeholders better understand the existing work and health research funding landscape.

Methodologically this study entailed desk research to identify and review publicly available databases and information requested from key funders, and semi-structured interviews with work and health researchers and funders.

This report is likely of interest to research funders, researchers and policymakers as well as those working in research or healthcare provision related to work and health.

Key Findings

  • Thirty one million pounds have been invested in work and health research by not-for-profit and public funders. Fifty-six per cent of that funding went to research conducted by academics and less than one per cent of all funding was spent on scholarships or fellowships.
  • The top five topics examined in work and health research since 2015 are mental health (49%), general long-term physical disability (11%), general health and wellbeing (9%), lifestyle areas (8%) and occupational health (7%). The top five methodologies used are clinical / randomised control trials, evaluations of interventions, longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies and scoping reviews.
  • The main priorities for future work and health research in the UK emerging from interviews are the work and health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of occupational health services, implementation research and interventions in the workplace.


  • Future attempts to map the work and health research landscape should include smaller funders (also from the private sector).
  • Work and health interventions can be costly so their cost-effectiveness for commissioners needs to be evaluated.
  • More funding is needed to develop career paths and support for work and health researchers to ensure there is future research expertise in this area.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    Summary conclusions and final reflections

  • Annex A


Research conducted by

The research described in this report was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and conducted by RAND Europe.

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