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Social prescribing is being increasingly discussed in general practice and perhaps your practice is already deploying it. This concept, centered on holistic healthcare, seeks to connect patients with non-medical resources in their communities to improve overall health and wellbeing. Social prescribing particularly targets health-related social issues such as loneliness and isolation and might include prescribing patients to join a local running group, or to take up community lessons in a language or the arts, to support their physical and mental wellbeing.

This study encompassed a comprehensive analysis of social prescribing schemes in twelve countries, including Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and United States.

It revealed a diverse landscape of social prescribing practices. While the definition and scale of implementation varied significantly, a common thread was the focus on addressing non-medical causes of illness. Social prescribing generally involves referrals to local, non-clinical services by health professionals, with the aim of promoting physical, psychological and social wellbeing. However, robust evidence on the impact of social prescribing is scarce and often country-specific, with some indications of cost-effectiveness and a positive influence on wellbeing.

This analysis provides valuable insights into the different forms and impacts of social prescribing. It highlights the potential of social prescribing in addressing health-related social factors and enhancing community-based care. As countries grapple with complex health needs, the authors suggest that social prescribing could play a pivotal role. The findings suggest that policies could foster better integration of social prescribing into existing healthcare systems, enhancing collaboration across sectors and improving training for health and social care professionals. While the concept and practice of social prescribing are still evolving, its potential to contribute to holistic healthcare is becoming clearer.


Further information

A comparison of social prescribing approaches across twelve high-income countries: ScienceDirect

Can social isolation be linked to early death/heart disease?:

Is social prescribing just what the doctor ordered?

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