Evaluation of the Innovation Fund Health-led Trials

Businesswoman suffering from neck pain at the office

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Despite the rate of sickness absence falling in recent years, the cost to the state, employers and the wider economy is estimated to exceed £22 billion. Reducing the extent of sickness absence and the disability employment gap in the UK has been a policy priority for years as the benefits from even a small reduction would be significant.

There are two main conditions that disproportionally lead to people struggling to maintain or gain employment: mental health and musculoskeletal disorders. Innovation Fund Health-led Trials test new ways of addressing these conditions. They work across health and work to improve individual economic, social and clinical outcomes within the objective of halving the disability employment gap.


The Department for Work and Pensions commissioned a consortium, of which RAND Europe is part, to evaluate the trials implemented in Sheffield and West Midlands. Overall, the evaluation aims to:

  • determine the impact of the new interventions on health and employment outcomes
  • understand what works, for whom and under what conditions.


The evaluation is rooted in a realist approach and relies on mixed methods. It includes Randomised Control Trials, cost-benefit analysis, and qualitative research methods, such as interviews, workshop and site visits.