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Investigating the relationship between changes in social security benefits and mental health: a protocol for a systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julija Simpson, Dr Heather BrownORCiD, Dr Viviana AlbaniORCiD, Professor Clare Bambra



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Introduction. Poor mental health is one of the greatest causes of disability in the world. Evidence increasingly shows that population mental health may be influenced by national social security policies. This systematic review aims to establish the relationship between social security and mental health in order to help inform recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and future research.Methods and analysis. A systematic review of quantitative observational studies comparing mental health outcomes before and after changes in social security policies will be conducted. Six major databases, including Medline, PsychInfo, Embase, CINAHL, Proquest and Scopus, will be searched from January 1979 to February 2020. The electronic database searches will be supplemented by reference and citation searches as well as hand-searching of key journals. The outcomes of interest include anyare objective or subjective mental health outcomes, including stress, anxiety, depression, self-reported mental health scores, subjective well-being and suicide. Study selection will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, and the quality of the studies will be assessed by the Validity Assessment Framework designed for appraising econometric studies. A narrative synthesis will be conducted for all included studies. If data permit, study findings will be synthesised by conducting a meta-analysis. Ethics and dissemination. As it will be a systematic review, without primary data collection, there will be no requirement for ethical approval. Findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publication and in various media, for example, conferences or symposia.Trial registration number International Prospective Register for Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) number CRD42019154733.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Simpson J, Brown H, Albani V, Ball Z, Bambra C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Issue: 6

Online publication date: 28/06/2020

Acceptance date: 18/05/2020

Date deposited: 18/05/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035993


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Funder referenceFunder name
Economic and Social Research Council