We use epidemiological studies to investigate the relationship between work and health

Using self-completed questionnaires and linkage to anonymised health records, we are following up more than 8000 adults aged 50-64 from across England to find out how health impacts on people’s ability to work in different types of job at older ages, whether it is better for health to retire earlier or later, and if so, in what circumstances (the HEAF study).

We are leading the Cultural and Psychosocial Influences on Disability (CUPID) study, an international project with collaborators in 18 countries from across the world, which explores the impacts of culturally determined health beliefs and expectations on common musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain. Data collected by questionnaire from more than 12,000 participants have revealed large differences in the reported prevalence of symptoms and associated disability between workers carrying out similar jobs but in different cultural environments. These are not explained by established physical and psychosocial risk factors, and we are now analysing follow-up data to characterise the variation in incidence and prevalence in greater depth, and investigate possible reasons for it

We are partners in the ARM study, a multi-centre randomised controlled trial led by the University of Aberdeen, which explores whether patients referred for physiotherapy because of non-specific distal arm pain should be advised to rest the arm or to remain active within the limits permitted by their symptoms. It also tests whether there are benefits from earlier access to physiotherapy.

We are conducting a national analysis of mortality by occupation based on all deaths in England and Wales at ages 20-74 during 2001-2010. By comparison with our previous analyses covering 1979-1990 and 1991-2000, we can examine trends in mortality from occupational hazards, and identify those which should be priorities for additional controls and further monitoring. Examples include persisting high death rates from asbestosis in certain construction trades, and from sinonasal cancer in woodworkers.

We are collaborating partners in a cluster randomised controlled trial on prevention of hand dermatitis in nurses (The SCIN study).

Other studies include return to work after carpal tunnel surgery and return to work after hip and knee arthroplasty.