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NIHR invests £1.5m in work and health research projects

Work and health news story hero

Published: 20 October 2023

The NIHR Work and Health Research Programme has awarded £1.5 million in funding to 13 development award projects. 

The funding marks the beginning of a substantial investment to boost work and health research within the UK. The research will find better ways to support working age people to remain in, return to, and leave work healthier and happier. 

The funded projects cover a range of topics to support health in working people. Researchers are investigating how to support working people with musculoskeletal conditions. They are also researching how small and middle-sized enterprises can be supported by larger companies. Teams are also finding out how to support healthy lifestyles in young working people. This could include ways that workplaces can encourage better diet and sleep patterns. Other teams are looking at ways to make workplaces more inclusive, and how best to support older working people. 

There are around 13.7 million working-age people in the UK with a long-term health condition. This includes 8.3 million disabled people whose condition reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Only 5 in 10 disabled people of working age are in work, compared to 8 in 10 non-disabled people. Research to help improve working health includes both physical health and mental health. It has the potential to deliver substantial benefits across the UK. These include economic and social benefits for individuals, employers and wider society. Individuals and their families will also benefit through improved employment, income, and health.

The new funding will allow researchers to start addressing key challenges in work and health and occupational health. These awards will also harness the skills and expertise to address these challenges. The awards will help researchers successfully bid for further funding from other NIHR research programmes. 

Each of the funded teams will be required to apply for the NIHR Work and Health Research Collaboration awards. These offer up to £2 million in funding for much larger projects and programmes of research, over three years. Stage 1 of the Research Collaboration Award competition will launch in December this year. This will also be open to researchers without a development award.

Read the full list of NIHR’s Work and Health Research Funded Development Awards 

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