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Health impacts of a WISE: a longitudinal study

Aurora Isabelle Elmes (Centre for Social Impact, Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 21 November 2019




This paper aims to report findings from the first year of the Vanguard Laundry evaluation study, which explores the impacts of a work integration social enterprise (WISE) on health.


Drawing on social determinants of health (SDH) conceptual framework, a mixed-methods longitudinal case study is used to evaluate the health impacts of a WISE employing people with lived experience of mental illness. In stage one of this study, 31 participants including staff and managers completed semi-structured interviews, validated health and well-being measures and a questionnaire based on the organisation’s theory of change. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively, and qualitative data are analysed thematically.


Data provided further evidence of the conceptualised WISE pathways for impact on SDH through employment, social integration, increased income, improved social position and living conditions. While social enterprise (SE) beneficiary staff had lower well-being scores than other staff members and management, the majority reported improved health, increased social supports and enhanced well-being through improved material conditions and increased sense of purpose, confidence and social connection.

Research limitations/implications

Stage one of this study relied on self-reported data. Future stages will incorporate income support and health data extracted from government agencies with participant consent.


This paper responds to calls for longitudinal studies that include a range of participants and use health outcome measures to further explore how a WISE impacts health through acting on SDH.



This research project has been funded by Vanguard Laundry Services through a PhD scholarship competitively awarded to Aurora Elmes, and supported through the Australian Government Research Training Scheme and the Centre for Social Impact - Swinburne. The author thanks her PhD Supervisors, Professor Jo Barraket and Dr Andrew Joyce.


Elmes, A.I. (2019), "Health impacts of a WISE: a longitudinal study", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 457-474.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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