Wider determinants

How do Citizens Advice Bureau services improve people’s health?

Fuse researchers are undertaking an innovative evaluation exploring if, how, when and in which circumstances Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) services improve client’s health.

CAB deliver complex services, providing support that is highly tailored to the needs of individuals and potentially leading to very different health impacts depending on the individual circumstances of the client. Due to this variation, establishing evidence on the effectiveness of CAB services in improving health has been challenging.

This study addresses this gap by undertaking a realist evaluation of how CAB services in the large town of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England may lead to health improvements. The research is funded by the National Institute for Health (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR), through the Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES) and will run until 31 March 2017.

A number of initial theories have been produced around how CAB services may lead to changes in people’s health. For instance, support from CAB with financial concerns reduces people’s stress and anxiety, which may help them to feel more in control and give them more space to think about making healthy lifestyle changes.  Other theories focus on the particular kinds of support provided by CAB. For example, where clients are mistrustful of state services, the impartial and non-judgmental nature of CAB advice may lead them to feel supported in navigating the welfare system, resulting in reduced stress and greater confidence to take action.

These theories were developed during collaborative team meetings and informed by a scope of the literature and interviews with CAB staff. In the next phase of the research, these theories will be tested through further interviews with service staff, as well as questionnaires and interviews with CAB clients. Once tested and refined, the theories will be used to develop a package of data collection measures that can be incorporated into CAB routine practice to assist them in capturing longer term health impacts.

Contact information: Prof Susan Carr, Professor of Public Health Research, email: sue.carr@northumbria.ac.uk, tel: +44 (0)191 215 6217.



  • Fuse brief, “How do Citizens Advice Bureau services improve people’s health?”


  • Fuseblog, “Too stressed for words? Involving those experiencing stress in research”, 4 November 2015, by Natalie Forster and Sonia Dalkin


Take a look at some other examples of Fuse research activity in the NIHR School for Public Health Research.

Last modified: Fri, 18 Dec 2015 11:06:33 GMT