Health Clearance Forms


Hello, I was wondering if anyone had to undergo a health clearance before starting their PhD. I have to have a few checks, such as security & CRB which are all fine, but I am worried about the health one. I have a health clearance for the Uni I will be studying at and one for the company I am collaborating with.

I have had an eating disorder for 9 years (I am 22), am on anti-depressants and having hospital outpatient treatment. I really dislike lying, but I am scared that if I put this down I will not pass my health clearance. I am also worried that the health clearance will require either a signature from my doctor to confirm what I have written is correct, or a box saying I consent to her being contacted. I know I can refuse for my medical records to be released and will be able to have a copy of anything my doctor sends to whoever is doing the health check. However, to refuse that could mean the offer is retracted anyway and presumably indicates I have something to hide.

Do health clearances need your doctor to say it is correct? I have seen some forms that say so. My old university didn't want any confirmation of what is written on a health form, but I am working for a company also, and I am worried they will.

Although, I know, on paper it might seem as if I am quite *ill*, I am much recovered, am a normal weight, have never taken time off Uni for it (the hosp has out of 9-5 appointments) and I do not consider it to affect my work in anyway. I have been *ill* throughout every exam I have ever taken and since I was accepted & sponsored based on my academic merit, I think that whether I am deemed *ill* or not, it shouldn't matter. My results/attendance show I am quite capable of the work.

Apart from that, I have no desire for anyone to know about any health conditions I have. Since I am in recovery, I am not underweight and will make sure I am not again - that makes it more embarrassing for me :$

My initial application didn't have any questions about health, although there was a separate, anonymous form about health which wasn't sent in with my application. I haven't lied or mentioned anything yet and don't know what is for the best

Any knowledge would be much appreciated.



''I am also worried that the health clearance will require either a signature from my doctor to confirm what I have written is correct, or a box saying I consent to her being contacted. ''

This is quite likely and something I also consider carefully for similar reasons. You could ask your gp what you need to disclose, i.e. what they would confirm. I honestly doubt whether it will be a problem. That's one of the nice things about academia - it's impossible to be weird or crazy - the competition is too intense;-)

I admit that I don't disclose unless I really have to - but best not to be caught out.


I may be wrong, but I would anticipate this form to enquire as to ongoing, medically controlled mental conditions (such as schizoprenia and bipolar disorder), transmissable infections (i.e.: hepatitis, HIV, TB) and chronic conditions such as asthma; Anything that may pose a risk to yourself or others.
Not being aware of your field of research and thus unable to determine if you will have patient/people contact makes a more detailed answer a bit difficult I'm afraid.
Personally (and brutally) I'd hedge my bets a bit on the anti-depressants (but not a lot) but do not think they would be overly concened over something such as bulaemia or anorexia. I don't think you have anything to worry about.


Hey there! I completely sympathise with you. I had to have an occupational health check in order to get an NHS research passport, as I am working with vulnerable NHS patients with mental health problems. On my form I had to disclose my bipolar disorder ( which has led to a number of hospital admissions and all sorts of treatments) and also my eating disorder which I recovered from almost 10 years ago now. I was terrified that they would not grant me this letter, which would have meant that I couldn't have continued with my PhD. After I filled in my form I was asked to go for an appointment and the doctor was quite nice and basically just wanted to make sure that I was well at the moment. There was no problem with him signing me off, although I did have to go back for a couple of follow-up appointments to make sure that I was coping with the work and was still well enough to do it. I have to admit, since then I did have a bad episode which I was supposed to inform them of and didn't, because I was worrried about the consequences of going to see them if I wasn't well. But for now, as long as you are well enough to do the job, and the job isn't likely to make your health worse in any way, I would tell the truth. The consequences of completely lying could only make things worse if you get found out, and these people aren't there to deliberately make life difficult for you. Just emphasize that you are well at the moment and you should be ok. Best wishes, KB


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Do you know what the purpose of the 'health clearance' form is? Is it to specifically assess your suitability to undertake your project, or is it a generic HR thing? I had to fill in an occupational health thing when I started my current RA post which asked a lot of questions but most of it was geared towards generally assessing your health status so that occupational health could perhaps offer any relevant support/equipment as required. I figured that is was probably a legal requirement that they asked these things at this stage so that an employee didn't turn around in 2 years and sue for bad working conditions 'because nobody ever asked me what my needs were'.

As it happened I decided to disclose that I had taken ADs in the past, as I thought there was a chance that they might find out via a previous encounter with occupational health at the same institution. I emphasised that this was historial. I heard absolutely nothing back at all.

Is it possible to contact the department administering the form and enquire the purpose of it and the kind of action they take in response to various answers (be vague)? Ultimately I guess it's up to you what you choose to disclose, and to work out the implications of the degree of honesty you decide to employ, but it might be easier to reach a decision if you do know why they are asking the questions.


I got a medical clearance form when I started my PhD - it was some generic form asking lots of medical questions that would only be relevant to medics/scientists. I binned it.

The relevance and need for disclosure ultimately depends on your discipline, January. I would imagine they're more interested in the issues Hypothesis outlines.

So many students (and staff) have depression or eating disorders these days, it's really not something that would exclude you from work.

If a company is interested in your medical clearance, they usually send you for a medical, because GPs can be biased/unreliable.


Hi again January! The other thing I should have mentioned before is that sometimes these checks are actually to protect other people who you might be working with....if you are working with kids/older people/ill people or whatever, they might need to just make sure that you are up to date on your vaccinations etc. Occupational health did check that out as well with myself and a few PhD colleagues (and sent some people for Hep B jabs etc) but they were generally quite inconsistent with who they checked out and who they didn't. I honestly don't think you have anything to worry about- as one of the others pointed out, if they excluded everyone who had ever had any sort of illness such as depression or eating disorders, half the population would be out of work! Best wishes, KB.


Thank you for your replies! :-)

Smilodon ~ I will only disclose *if* there is the box about contacting my doctor, otherwise I don’t see the point, it can only be a negative. I like the thought you cannot be weird or crazy because it is too competitive...I tend to think that you can be rational apart from one thing (the illness part).

Hypothesis ~ I am a microbiologist so other than the lab I will not really have contact with anyone in regards to the research. You mention that you do not think they would be particularly concerned with eating disorders (I am currently bulimic) but that it may be concerned with ‘ongoing, medically controlled mental conditions’. Do you have any idea what would classify as a ongoing, medically controlled mental condition? I am diagnosed as chronic, and my ED is controlled in part by Prozac 60mgs – the med/dose is specifically described as a treatment for bulimia. I know it isn’t a lifelong illness in the sense that some other mental illnesses cannot be recovered from, but I wonder... I am sure you cannot really answer that question, so do not worry! Why would mentioning antidepressants be something you are more wary about? Because it is a medication? I am on the highest recommended dose of my med, although it isn’t actually the highest dose given, just generally is. That makes me worry slightly.

Keenbean ~ Thank you for sharing! I will not be working with anyone other than in the lab, because I am investigating microbial metabolism. I think I will tell the truth. It does irk me though, because it doesn’t prevent me from doing work and they wouldn’t realise otherwise.

HazyJane ~ Yes, it would be a lot easier. I am not sure what kind of health clearance it is. I did enquire about the clearances I need to pass, but the detail about this form was just *it is a health clearance form*. I decided not to press any further, because I had already vaguely asked and being more specific may raise questions. I did search both my future Uni/Company for their health regulations and it wasn’t very specific either. The Uni one I think is more vague and related to disability and special conditions/needs and there was a section on equal opportunities. The Company didn’t say much other than you needed clearance. We shall see I guess!

missspacey ~ I am a microbiologist. I would rather a new doctor assessed me tbh, so I hope if I do need *assessing* that will be the case! The problem I have is that on paper it looks bad, but *bad* is relative and I don’t see why they should ask about it as, like I said earlier, they know my work and my personal life shouldn’t really be an issue.


Hi January,

From what you've said (as a microbiologist) it would be my thoughts they just want to assess your vaccination status and determine any chronic, transmissable illness. I don't see you'll have any problems.
Word to the wise; go with an experienced GP or doctor (if you are at all worried) - new medics tend to be over cautious and prone to drama, while the oldies use more common sense! (sorry to any new medics ;-)8-) )
Enjoy your project!