Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Preparing the prescription: a review of the aim and measurement of social referral programmes

Rempel, Emily S, Wilson, Emma N, Durrant, Hannah and Barnett, Julie 2017. Preparing the prescription: a review of the aim and measurement of social referral programmes. BMJ Open 7 (10) , e017734. 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017734

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (742kB) | Preview


Objective Our aim is to review, and qualitatively evaluate, the aims and measures of social referral programmes. Our first objective is to identify the aims of social referral initiatives. Our second objective is to identify the measures used to evaluate whether the aims of social referral were met. Design Literature review. Background Social referral programmes, also called social prescribing and emergency case referral, link primary and secondary healthcare with community services, often under the guise of decreasing health system costs. Method Following the PRISMA guidelines, we undertook a literature review to address that aim. We searched in five academic online databases and in one online non-academic search engine, including both academic and grey literature, for articles referring to ‘social prescribing’ or ‘community referral’. Results We identified 41 relevant articles and reports. After extracting the aims, measures and type of study, we found that most social referral programmes aimed to address a wide variety of system and individual health problems. This included cost savings, resource reallocation and improved mental, physical and social well-being. Across the 41 studies and reports, there were 154 different kinds of measures or methods of evaluation identified. Of these, the most commonly used individual measure was the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, used in nine studies and reports. Conclusions These inconsistencies in aims and measures used pose serious problems when social prescribing and other referral programmes are often advertised as a solution to health services-budgeting constraints, as well as a range of chronic mental and physical health conditions. We recommend researchers and local community organisers alike to critically evaluate for whom, where and why their social referral programmes ‘work’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2044-6055
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 3 August 2017
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 15:00

Citation Data

Cited 2 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics