HealthDay News — An adverse impact on mental health is seen with reducing the age at which Lone Parent Obligations (LPO) — which require lone parents in the United Kingdom to seek work as a condition for receiving welfare benefits — apply, according to a study published in the July issue of The Lancet Public Health.

Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed data from lone mothers newly exposed to LPO when the age cutoff was reduced from 7 to 5 years in 2012 (intervention group 1), from 10 to 7 years in 2010 (intervention group 2), and for lone mothers who remained unexposed or were continuously exposed (control groups 1 and 2).

The researchers found that, compared with the control groups, there was a decrease in the mental health of lone mothers in the intervention groups. Scores on the Mental Component Summary (MCS) of the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey decreased by 1.39 and by 2.29 in intervention group 1 versus control groups 1 and 2, respectively. MCS scores decreased by 2.45 and 1.28 for intervention group 2 versus controls groups 1 and 2, respectively. Scores on the MCS decreased by 2.13 and 2.21 when pooling the two intervention groups compared with control groups 1 and 2, respectively.

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“Our results suggest that requiring lone parents with school-age children to seek work as a condition of receiving welfare benefits adversely affects their mental health,” the authors write.

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