Courtesy of Mo Stewart July29th 2016

Re: Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability.

by Tom Shakespeare, Nicholas Watson and Ola Abu Alghaib


Critical Social Policy, May 25,2016: 0261018316649120


AS you all know, I have been exposing the dangerous WCA in my research since 2009.  Eventually, I was able to expose the use of the totally discredited biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment, used for the WCA and adopting a ‘non-medical’ assessment model to resist funding benefit.  Waddell and Aylward’s ‘research’ was based on the modified version of Engel’s BPS model as identified in the 1970s. They are responsible for the BPS model used for the WCA, which has destroyed countless lives.


Finally, the very long awaited academic support has arrived in the form of a blistering attack against Mansel Aylward and Gordon Waddell’s research ‘evidence’ who, historically, have written DWP ‘commissioned’ research that has influenced government policy, which led to the introduction of the WCA.


Originally published in Critical Social Policy Journal, Tom’s scathing attack against the BPS duo is now attached and is available via Tom’s website at UEA: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/58235/1/1351_Shakespeare.pdf


The Waddell-Aylward BPS has remained largely unexamined within academic literature, although it has not escaped critique by disability activists (e.g. Jolly 2012, Berger n.d., Lostheskold 2012, Stewart 2013). In this paper we build on these political challenges with an academic analysis of the model and the evidence used to justify it. We outline the chief features of the Waddell-Aylward BPS and argue that, contrary to Lord Freud’s comments above, there is no coherent theory or evidence behind this model. We have carefully reviewed claims in Waddell and Aylward’s publications; compared these with the accepted scientific literature; and checked their original sources, revealing a cavalier approach to scientific evidence. In conclusion, we will briefly outline the influence of the Waddell-Aylward BPS on contemporary British social policy, and the consequent effects on disabled people.” (p4) (My emphasis MS)


Waddell and Aylward slide between general statements that are scientifically valid, and specific statements that are matters of opinion or political prejudice. They also tend to cite their own, non-peer reviewed papers extensively. For example they claim ‘We have the knowledge to reduce sickness absence and long-term incapacity associated with common health problems by 30–50%, and in principle by even more’ (2010, 45). They underpin this claim by reference to one of their earlier publications, Concepts of Rehabilitation for the Management of Common Health Problems (Waddell & Burton 2004). However, there is no evidence cited in this 2004 work to support such a claim, in fact this publication even acknowledges the paucity of evidence in this area (Waddell and Burton 2004; 50).” (p20)


“In conclusion, the relationship of the advocates of the Waddell Aylward BPS to the UK government’s ‘welfare reform’ does not represent evidence-based policy. Rather, it offers a chilling example of policy-based evidence.” (p24)


The research ‘evidence’ used by the DWP to justify the dangerous WCA, using the discredited BPS model, is finally exposed as having ‘no coherent theory or evidence behind this model’, which is academic speak for being totally bogus.



Comments on: "Academic confirmation we have all been waiting 7 years for- AYLWARD’S REPUTATION DESTROYED BY ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE" (9)

  1. Well done Gail. Vitally important that we get the word out that the ‘academic’ research used to justify the WCA is totally bogus.


  2. I was dismayed to see that they did not address my very specific academic critique of the biopsychosocial model, which is more detailed than theirs and which I published in 2012 in my book “Authors of our own misfortune”. I did make Tom aware of my book in 2012. Black Triangle published an article from me about the issue in 2012 also, in response to Mansel Aylward, which has been out in the public domain since then. There are specific reasons why my own critique can be seen as more devastating and therefore very useful to the concerns of disabled people, especially where the biopsychosocial model has been used to practice disability denial. So no – it has not gone largely unexamined within academic discourse, contrary to what is being claimed.


    • Hi Angela , Would you care to send me a link and I will add this to the blog


      • Aagh- I have just seen your reply above after writing another response. I did actually have a response to Shakespeare et al published by the same journal (Critical Social Policy): online first in November 2016, and will appear permanently in the journal in 37(2) May 2017. Unfortunately Shakespeare et al’s article is actually very incomplete (which causes problems) and fails to acknowledge work other academics have done on this (including tackling Aylward by the way), including myself. I had a response to Shakespeare et al explaining that published by the same journal (Critical Social Policy): online first in November 2016, and will appear permanently in the journal in 37(2) May 2017. This is not to detract from work Shakespeare et al have done on the subject. However on its own it is incomplete, and it isn’t a good thing when other (disabled) academics’ work is erased and wrong claims are made about work being ‘the first’ when it isn’t.


      • The response is behind the usual academic paywall, but my 1st draft is available below. However it isn’t the same as the final version that was published: https://www.academia.edu/29310279/A_Kennedy_CSP_response_to_Shakespeare_et_al_2016_-_version_1.pdf


  3. Surprised to see this. Considering the numbers of academics working is social policy and disability studies, this subject has indeed been totally avoided by most of them, and I have been researching and reporting the evidence now for 7 years. The difference is that this is an academic paper, not a book, and Tom has referenced academic papers. Angela’s book is very detailed and I have is referenced it in my work but, for ease of instant access, an academic paper is easier for many people to access and to read than a book that would need purchase.


  4. are we now going to see change hmmm yet far to many have died at the hands of yet it still going on


  5. Will anybody listen? Will anything end up ameliorated and improved? With dilettante “welfare expert” David Freud seemingly remaining as unelected Minister for Welfare Reform forever, my suspicion, based on Freud’s previous intransigence and refusal to admit to error and mistake, is that nothing will be altered and that the carnage in respect to the sick and disabled (and soon poor children it seems) will continue without respite.

    The public are ignorant of the unfolding horror associated with WCA and similar.

    Even if disabused of this lack of understanding I wonder if anybody would care these days.


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