Link Worker Research

"Social prescribing enables healthcare practitioners to refer patients to a range of non-clinical services. Primarily, but not solely, directed at people with long-term conditions, social prescribing harnesses assets within the voluntary and community sectors to improve and encourage self-care and facilitate health-creating communities. There is increasing interest in social prescribing as a means of addressing complex health, psychological and social issues presented in primary care, as well as its potential to reduce health inequalities. "

(Moffatt, S., Steer, M., Lawson, S., Penn, L., & O’Brien, N., 2017, p1)

Social Prescribing: Short definition

Enabling healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker, to co-design a nonclinical social prescription to improve their health and wellbeing.

Social Prescribing: Fuller definition

A means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker - to provide them with a face to face conversation during which they can learn about the possibilities and design their own personalised solutions, i.e. ‘co-produce’ their ‘social prescription’- so that people with social, emotional or practical needs are empowered to find solutions which will improve their health and wellbeing, often using services provided by the voluntary and community sector.

Social Prescribing Network (2016) [download]

Related Research and Resources

Alderwick, H. A., Gottlieb, L. M., Fichtenberg, C. M., & Adler, N. E. (2018). Social Prescribing in the US and England: Emerging Interventions to Address Patients’ Social Needs. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54(5), 715-718. doi10.1016/j.amepre.2018.01.039

Baker, K., & Irving, A. (2016). Co‐producing approaches to the management of dementia through social prescribing. Social Policy & Administration, 50(3), 379-397. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12127

Bertotti, M., Frostick, C., Hutt, P., Sohanpal, R., & Carnes, D. (2018). A realist evaluation of social prescribing: an exploration into the context and mechanisms underpinning a pathway linking primary care with the voluntary sector. Primary health care research & development, 19(3), 232-245. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1463423617000706

Bickerdike, L., Booth, A., Wilson, P. M., Farley, K., & Wright, K. (2017). Social prescribing: less rhetoric and more reality. A systematic review of the evidence. BMJ Open, 7(4), e013384. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013384

Carnes, D., Sohanpal, R., Frostick, C., Hull, S., Mathur, R., Netuveli, G., ... & Bertotti, M. (2017). The impact of a social prescribing service on patients in primary care: a mixed methods evaluation. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1), 835.

Chatterjee, H. J., Camic, P. M., Lockyer, B., & Thomson, L. J. (2018). Non-clinical community interventions: a systematised review of social prescribing schemes. Arts & Health, 10(2), 97-123. https://doi.org/10.1080/17533015.2017.1334002

Drinkwater, C., Wildman J., Moffatt, S. (2019). Social prescribing BMJ 364 :l1285 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1285

Frostick, C., & Bertotti, M. (2019). The frontline of social prescribing–How do we ensure Link Workers can work safely and effectively within primary care?. Chronic Illness, 1742395319882068. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1742395319882068

Frostick, C., & Bertotti, M. (2019). Social prescribing in general practice. British Journal of General Practice 69 (688): 538-539. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp19X706157

Gottlieb, L., Cottrell, E. K., Park, B., Clark, K. D., Gold, R., & Fichtenberg, C. (2018). Advancing social prescribing with implementation science. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 31(3), 315-321. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2018.03.170249

Haslam, C., Jetten, J., Cruwys, T., Dingle, G., & Haslam, S. A. (2018). The New Psychology of Health. Unlocking the Social Cure, London: Routledge. [publisher]

Husk, K., Elston, J., Gradinger, F., Callaghan, L., & Asthana, S. (2019). Editorial - Social prescribing: where is the evidence?. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp19X700325 with a response by Stevenson, C. et al. (2019). Social prescribing: A practice in need of a theory. https://bjgp.org/content/social-prescribing-practice-need-theory

Models of Social PrescribingImage from Husk, K. et al. (2019). What approaches to social prescribing work, for whom, and in what circumstances? A realist review. Health & social care in the community. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12839

Husk, K., Blockley, K., Lovell, R., Bethel, A., Lang, I., Byng, R., & Garside, R. (2019). What approaches to social prescribing work, for whom, and in what circumstances? A realist review. Health & social care in the community. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12839

Holt-Lunstad, J., Robles, T. F., & Sbarra, D. A. (2017). Advancing social connection as a public health priority in the United States. American Psychologist, 72(6), 517. DOI: 10.1037/amp0000103

Kilgarriff-Foster, A., & O'Cathain, A. (2015). Exploring the components and impact of social prescribing. Journal of Public Mental Health, 14(3), 127-134. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-06-2014-0027

Kellezi, B., Wakefield, J. R., McNamara, N., Stevenson, C., Mair, E., Bowe, M., ... & Halder, M. M. (2019). The social cure of social prescribing: a mixed-methods study on the benefits of social connectedness on quality and effectiveness of care provision. BMJ Open. 9:e033137. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/11/e033137

Kimberlee, R. (2015). What is social prescribing?. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.14738/assrj.21.808

Malby B, Boyle D, Wildman J, Smith S, Ben Omar S (2019). The Asset Based Health Inquiry. How best to develop social prescribing. Health Systems Innovation Lab. London South Bank University https://beckymalby.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/an-asset-based-approach-to-health-the-3-things-you-should-know-about-social-prescribing

Mercer SW, Wyke S, Fitzpatrick B, et al . (2017) Evaluation of the Glasgow “Deep End” Links Worker Programme. Glasgow University. http://www.healthscotland.com/documents/29438.aspx

Moffatt, S., Steer, M., Lawson, S., Penn, L., & O’Brien, N. (2017). Link Worker social prescribing to improve health and well-being for people with long-term conditions: qualitative study of service user perceptions. BMJ Open, 7(7), e015203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015203

Moffatt, S., Wildman, J., Pollard, T. M., Penn, L., O’Brien, N., Pearce, M. S., & Wildman, J. M. (2019). Evaluating the impact of a community-based social prescribing intervention on people with type 2 diabetes in North East England: mixed-methods study protocol. BMJ Open, 9(1), bmjopen-2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026826

Pescheny, J. V., Pappas, Y., & Randhawa, G. (2018). Facilitators and barriers of implementing and delivering social prescribing services: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research, 18(1), 86. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-2893-4

Pescheny, J., Randhawa, G., & Pappas, Y. (2018). Patient uptake and adherence to social prescribing: a qualitative study. BJGP open, 2(3), bjgpopen18X101598. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen18X101598

Pescheny, J. V., Randhawa, G., & Pappas, Y. (2019). The impact of social prescribing services on service users: a systematic review of the evidence. European Journal of Public Health. ckz078, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckz078

Polley, M., Chatterjee, H., & Clayton, G. (2017). Social prescribing: community-based referral in public health. Perspectives in Public Health, 138(1), 18-19. [www]

Sani, F., Madhok, V., Norbury, M., Dugard, P., & Wakefield, J. R. (2015). Greater number of group identifications is associated with healthier behaviour: Evidence from a Scottish community sample. British Journal of Health Psychology, 20(3), 466-481. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12119

Skivington, K., Smith, M., Chng, N. R., Mackenzie, M., Wyke, S., & Mercer, S. W. (2018). Delivering a primary care-based social prescribing initiative: a qualitative study of the benefits and challenges. Br J Gen Pract, 68(672), e487-e494. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp18X696617

Social Prescribing Network (2016). Report of the annual social prescribing network conference. London: University of Westminster. [download]

South, J., Higgins, T. J., Woodall, J., & White, S. M. (2008). Can social prescribing provide the missing link?. Primary Health Care Research & Development, 9(4), 310-318. https://doi.org/10.1017/S146342360800087X

Thomson, L., Camic, P. M., & Chatterjee, H. (2015). Social prescribing: a review of community referral schemes. http://create.canterbury.ac.uk/15655/1/Social_Prescribing_Review_2015.pdf

Wildman, J. M., Moffatt, S., Steer, M., Laing, K., Penn, L., & O’Brien, N. (2019). Service-users’ perspectives of link worker social prescribing: a qualitative follow-up study. BMC public health, 19(1), 98. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6349-x

Wildman, J. M., Moffatt, S., Penn, L., O'Brien, N., Steer, M., & Hill, C. (2018). Link workers’ perspectives on factors enabling and preventing client engagement with social prescribing. Health & social care in the community. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12716

Whitelaw, S., Thirlwall, C., Morrison, A., Osborne, J., Tattum, L., & Walker, S. (2017). Developing and implementing a social prescribing initiative in primary care: insights into the possibility of normalisation and sustainability from a UK case study. Primary health care research & development, 18(2), 112-121. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1463423616000219

Woodall, J. R., Trigwell, J., Bunyan, A., Raine, G., Eaton, V., Davis, J., ... & Wilkinson, S. (2018). Understanding outcomes and processes of a social prescribing service: a mixed method analysis. BMC Health Services Research, 18(604). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3437-7

Woodall, J., Trigwell, J., Bunyan, A. M., Raine, G., Eaton, V., Davis, J., ... & Wilkinson, S. (2018). Understanding the effectiveness and mechanisms of a social prescribing service: a mixed method analysis. BMC Health Services Research, 18(1), 604. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3437-7

Further Resources

Follow on twitter

National Association of Link Workers - @ConnectLinkOrg

Simon Chapman - Deputy Director, Personalised Care @NHSEngland - @SimonSimply

Kerryn Husk - @kerrynhusk