Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University are part of the newly established academic partnership announced by the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASB).
There is a large and growing evidence base supporting the benefits of social prescribing for people’s health and wellbeing, however it is not comprehensive or easy to access.
This poses an obstacle to the future expansion of social prescribing at a time when demand is growing, especially to support those most impacted by Covid-19.
Social prescribing, also sometimes known as community referral, is a means of enabling health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.
Focus on outcomes for people
The academic partnership will work closely with the NASB, NHS England and NHS Improvement and other partners, to share existing evidence more effectively, and with focus on outcomes for people, local systems and communities.
It will be led by the University of Plymouth’s National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula and includes: The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, based in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford; University of East London; Sheffield Hallam University; The Social Prescribing Network; University of the West of England; and University College London and the National Centre for Creative Health.
The academic partnership will establish a stakeholder group, welcoming interest from across the social prescribing pathway, both UK and internationally and work with stakeholders to prioritise where access to evidence would help social prescribing to thrive.
Once these priorities are agreed, the team will start to bring existing evidence together into a compelling and accessible online resource and identify a roadmap of future research and evidence that is needed to support the development of social prescribing policy, practice and research.
Principal Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University, Chris Dayson said: “Sheffield Hallam University has been involved in research on social prescribing since 2013 and our findings have directly influenced Government policy including the NHS Long Term Plan and the Prevention and Loneliness Strategies. I’m really excited to be working with so many incredible researchers from across the country on this important project as we look to build the evidence base on social prescribing yet further and connect with our strategy to put social prescribing research at the heart of the ‘Healthy and Active 100’ theme of the university’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre.”
Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the National Academy for Social Prescribing said:
“We are all really excited to start this work – making it easier for social prescribing link workers, health practitioners, decision makers and the people we care for, to find the high quality information and evidence needed to make informed choices. This is a vital step forward in underpinning the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s ambitions to help social prescribing thrive.”