The question of social prescribing
A new review, published in the BMJ Open (Kiely et al, 2022), found that there is no consistent evidence that social prescribing improves social support or physical function, or reduced the use of primary care services. I previously talked about social prescribing in my September editorial where new socially prescribed schemes were being trialled in 11 different areas across the UK (Allaway, 2022). This new report details just why this trial might not be the effective and thought-through scheme the health services were hoping.
The study examined eight studies involving 6500 people. Four studies involving 2186 people found that social prescribing did not affect health-related quality of life.
Meanwhile, three of the four studies that reported mental health outcomes on 1924 participants found no impact on social prescribing. In addition, only one of the four studies reporting on primary healthcare use found a decrease in primary care attendance in the intervention group. Two of the remaining studies found no evidence of a change in usage, while one from the US discovered an increase in attendance.
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