Experience of implementing and evaluating social prescribing in the North West Coast of England

Talk Code: 
Nadja van Ginneken
Author institutions: 
University of Liverpool


Whilst social prescribing (linking patients to health and wellbeing resources) is not a new construct, it has been earmarked by the 2019 NHS Long Term Plan to address health inequalities and promote health and resilience, through a person-centred approach. Evidence remains scarce for what types of social prescribing and wellbeing activities are effective and feasible for which types of population. Our approach focusses on enquiring amongst current organisations across the North West Coast Applied Research Collaborative (ARC-NWC) to learn about current challenges and opportunities organisations with regards to design, implementation, evaluation and sustainability.


A  mixed methods approach included conducting 1/ a ‘shared learning workshop’ amongst eight programmes that were under the CLAHRC (predecessor to ARC) complemented by document analysis of these projects, and 2/ a survey across ARC members and their collaborators across the NWC.


The workshop attendees felt the key important features for good programme implementation and perceived effectiveness were a/ a whole system approach, i.e. the interrelationship of working in partnership and collaboration with different stakeholders; b/ public engagement and involvement; and c/ using a personalised approach. Challenges identified included difficulties of capacity and engagement and adherence of stakeholders and referred people; technical, resource and financial challenges of evaluation; and the lack of sustainability of programmes due to short term funding. The survey information on 50 projects highlighted the breadth of different models to deliver social prescribing. Sustainability was also a concern, (poor financial and statutory body support and rising demand). Evaluation was weak; 58% of programmes did any form of evaluation, of which only 38% use validated quantitative measures.


Understanding the current processes and challenges will lead to further collaborative research to strengthen evaluation, build on important models of co-development and address issues of sustainability.

Presenting author: Nadja van Ginneken, Department of Primary Care and Mental Health, University of Liverpool, nadjavg@liverpool.ac.uk, @Nadja_vG

Co-authors: Adele Ring, Shaima Hassan, Mark Goodall, Katharine Abba, Nadja van Ginneken