Protocol: Realist synthesis of the impact of unemployment insurance policies on poverty and health

Agnes Molnar, Patricia O'Campo, Edwin Ng, Christiane Mitchell, Carles Muntaner, Emilie Renahy, Alexander St. John, Ketan Shankardass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Unemployment insurance is an important social protection policy that buffers unemployed workers against poverty and poor health. Most unemployment insurance studies focus on whether increases in unemployment insurance generosity are predictive of poverty and health outcomes. Less work has used theory-driven approaches to understand and explain how and why unemployment insurance works, for whom, and under what circumstances. Given this, we present a realist synthesis protocol that seeks to unpack how contextual influences trigger relevant mechanisms to generate poverty and health outcomes. In this protocol, we conceptualize unemployment insurance as a key social protection policy; provide a supporting rationale on the need for a realist synthesis; and describe our process on identifying context-mechanism-outcome pattern configurations. Six methodological steps are described: initial theory development, search strategy; selection and appraisal of documents; data extraction; analysis and synthesis process; and presentation and dissemination of revised theory. Our forthcoming realist synthesis will be the first to build and test theory on the intended and unintended outcomes of unemployment insurance policies. Anticipated findings will allow policymakers to move beyond 'black box' approaches to consider 'mechanism-based' explanations that explicate the logic on how and why unemployment insurance matters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEvaluation and program planning
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the European Community's Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) to the SOPHIE Project (Evaluating the Impact of Structural Policies on Health Inequalities and their Social Determinants and Fostering Change), Grant no. 278173 . The authors also gratefully acknowledge the support of The Canadian Institute for Health Research , Grant no. 96566 , and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Context
  • Health
  • Mechanism
  • Outcome
  • Poverty
  • Protocol
  • Realist synthesis
  • Social protection
  • Unemployment insurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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