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Improving health and wellbeing through interdisciplinary evidence-based research and innovation.

People’s health and well-being can be affected by a range of factors. As a result, there is growing recognition that some patient needs could be better met by other kinds of support in the community. This is where social prescribing could help. It is a broad term that recognises that well-being can also be influenced by social, economic and/or environmental circumstances.

Social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs holistically, empowering them to take more control of their health. It focuses on non-medical needs affecting health or well-being by linking people to local, community groups or organisations (e.g. luncheon clubs, walking groups, cultural activities, debt advice) to help with a spectrum of problems including social isolation, housing issues or unemployment.

We have established an Oxford Social Prescribing Research Network, consisting of members of the university's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (part of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences) and colleagues from Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), alongside members of the public, clinical providers, policymakers and other researchers. 

Together, we are working to understand different perspectives on social prescribing, how patients' health and well-being can benefit, and the mechanisms through which social prescribing delivery can be optimised.

While research on social prescribing is increasing, there is a need for more robust and systematic evidence of its efficacy and how it is best deployed. This is an area in which Oxford is well placed to become a world leader. 

The network is committed to using evidence-based research and innovation to address key influences and challenges that affect people's health and well-being. This is particularly relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term consequences that this will have on people's lives. We also aim to better understand the effects of interventions such as engagement with GLAM's collections on people's well-being and mental health. 

We have launched an Oxford Social Prescribing Research Network website, dedicated to exploring ways in which community organisations and groups can support people's health and well-being, and how best to integrate evidence and innovation around social prescribing. 

All past, ongoing and new projects will be hosted on the website, alongside research findings, blogs, news items, reports and events. 

Discover the website and stay up-to-date with our completed and ongoing work. 

For more information about our work, please contact any of the following network members:

Stephanie Tierneystephanie.tierney@phc.ox.ac.uk

Kamal R. Mahtanikamal.mahtani@phc.ox.ac.uk

Lucy Shawlucy.shaw@glam.ox.ac.uk

Our team