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The effectiveness of using the workplace to identify and address modifiable health risk factors in deprived populations
  1. Syed Zakir Abbas1,
  2. Tessa M Pollard2,
  3. Philip Wynn3,
  4. Alyson Learmonth4,
  5. Kerry Joyce5,
  6. Clare Bambra6
  1. 1Occupational Health Service, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland, UK
  2. 2Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Durham, UK
  3. 3Occupational Health Service, Durham County Council, Durham, UK
  4. 4Centre for Public Policy and Health, School of Medicine, Pharmacy & Health, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University,  Durham, UK
  5. 5Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  6. 6Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip Wynn, Occupational Health Service, Durham County Council, County Hall, Durham DH1 4LS, UK; philip.wynn{at}


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.

  • deprivation
  • health check
  • health inequalities
  • workplace
  • cardiovascular risk

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