Program linking patients to community resources shows no significant impact on well-being

November 12, 2019

A social prescribing initiative, designed to improve patients' well-being and quality of life by connecting them to non-medical resources, did not prove effective overall. The study assessed the efficacy of a Scottish government-funded program that was developed to target social determinants of health among some of the most socioeconomically vulnerable adults in Glasgow. In the program, "Community-Links Practitioners" connected adult patients with community resources like exercise groups and drug and alcohol management support. The study evaluated the health-related quality of life, at baseline and after nine months, of 288 adults enrolled in the program. The authors compared their scores with 612 non-matched adults in comparison general practices and found no significant benefit in the intervention group. In a subgroup analysis, those who visited the practitioner three or more times showed improved quality of life, but many who enrolled did not fully utilize the program. The findings of this study call into question the effectiveness of such social prescribing programs for improving short-term health-related quality of life. Discovering ways to improve the uptake and engagement rates of the intervention may lead to better overall outcomes.
Effectiveness of Community-Links Practitioners in Areas of High Socioeconomic Deprivation

Stewart W. Mercer, MBChB, PhD, et al.

University of Edinburgh, Centre for Population Health Sciences, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, Medical School, Edinburgh, Scotland

American Academy of Family Physicians

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