Friends for Good
New research finds 91% of patients who followed non-medial forms of treatment prescribed by their doctor found them helpful.
Social prescribing (also known as community referral or non-medical prescribing) is a practice whereby general practitioners (GPs) and other primary care workers, link clients to community support services and social activities as part of their treatment plan.
New research from Australian charity Friends for Good looked at the use of social prescribing in Australia and its potential use as a tool to help alleviate loneliness. The report, More than Medicine: Exploring Social Prescribing in Australia, surveyed over one thousand Australians, and found that 91% of patients who followed non-medial forms of treatment prescribed by their doctor, found them helpful.
In addition to this, 83% of respondents reported that they would be would be comfortable or very comfortable with a health professional ‘prescribing’ social activities; and 85% of respondents felt that social prescribing would positively or very positively impact them.
Early studies here in Australia on the impact of social prescribing reported significant improvements in health satisfaction in program participants and, to a lesser extent, a reduction in feelings of loneliness.1 Participants in a similar program in the UK reported an increase in wellbeing and social connectedness as well as a reduction in anxiety.2
“We are encouraged by the research, which indicates the potential of social prescribing as a tool for tackling loneliness here in Australia”, comments Lauria Rouhan, co-founder at Friends for Good.
The research highlights the potential positive benefits of social prescribing as a method of providing patients with a holistic care plan, supporting both the psychological and biomedical aspects of patient wellbeing.
As loneliness and social isolation have been linked to a number of health issues, including heart disease, and social prescribing is aimed at helping to address causal issues, it could ultimately lead to better patient outcomes long-term.
Although social prescribing doesn’t appear to be a common practice in Australia yet, with only 14% of respondents having experienced it, preliminary evidence suggests that social prescribing programs in the Australian context could be beneficial.
To view the report, click here.
Aggar, C., Thomas, T., Gordon, C., Bloomfield, J., & Baker, J. (2021). Social Prescribing for Individuals Living with Mental Illness in an Australian Community Setting: A Pilot Study. Community Mental Health Journal, 57, 189–195. https://doi-org.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/10.1007/s10597-020-00631-6
Davis-Hall, M. (2018). The Bromley by Bow Centre: Harnessing the power of community. British Journal of General Practice, 68, 333. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp18X697733