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Social Prescribing

Social prescribing is a way of linking primary care patients with psycho-social issues, with sources of appropriate, non-medical support in the community ?

  • Suitable referrals to social prescribing initiatives are vulnerable and at risk groups such as: people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety; low income single parents; recently bereaved older people; people with long term conditions and frequent attendees in primary and secondary care

  • Social prescribing has been described as having the potential to improve mental health outcomes, reduce demand on statutory services, improve community wellbeing and resilience and reduce social exclusion ?

  • Prescribed activities run by existing schemes have included arts and creative activities, physical activity, learning and volunteering opportunities and courses, self-care and support with practical issues such as benefits, housing, debt and employment ?

  • The evidence on the impact of social prescribing is currently limited and inconsistent. Some initiatives have shown improved outcomes for patients and potential for cost-savings (in the longer term), but few have been subject to economic analysis or the kind of rigorous evaluation which would inform commissioners ?

  • Accordingly, any new, local social prescribing initiatives should aim to add to the current evidence base and conduct transparent and thorough evaluation (addressing the questions of when, for whom and how well does the scheme work? What impact does it have? What does it cost? Is it cost-effective?) ?

  • Many of the components of social prescribing initiatives have been shown to be effective (outside of the umbrella of social prescribing schemes), and may already be offered by local voluntary, community and third sector groups. It is important to note where these activities or structures already exist, so as not to re-invent existing provision.

View full 2015 Social Prescribing Evidence Review

Also consider

Social prescribing and health and well-being (July 2017)


Governance International provide information on co-production for better outcomes with citizens. Range of tools, training, research and peer learning around the world to transform public services based on international good practice. View the website.


Key information sources for you to consider:
Health and social care outcomes frameworks (Collection)
Public Health England Data and Knowledge Gateway
NHS Digital
Child and Maternal Health