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Research – social prescribing

All Wales Social Prescribing Research Network (April 2018 – March 2019)

The Network aims to build the critical evidence for social prescribing in Wales working with academic partners, health and social care partners and third sector partners. It functions as a research platform to support the three communities of practice in North, West and East Wales, primarily through a virtual network but also with face-to-face events across Wales.

We are aiming to explore the following priorities:

  • What systems might sustain community assets? How can we make it sustainable?
  • What does ‘good’ look like? What are the critical success factors for social prescribing? What are the barriers to stop things working?
  • What would an all-Wales agreed evaluation framework look like?
  • How can we be mindful of de-medicalisation/medicalisation power-dynamics and language?
  • How do we stay true to the experience of an individual vs the experience of the ‘population’?
  • How can we use ‘appropriately’ ethical research processes? What are appropriate forms of inquiry to produce useful evidence?
  • How are decisions made? And what nudges are needed?
  • What does ‘accountability’ mean?

Members use a participatory research approach to hold to account the notion that society is based on equality and democracy. Participatory research is designed to engage participants in the research or evaluation process. It assumes that the knowledge and wisdom required for developing the Network and its research will emerge through collective intelligence and creativity. The Network has 280 research members and 280 community of practice members.

Specific projects are being undertaken in each health board area: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan, Cwm Taf, Hywel Dda, Powys, North Wales.

Final report: Final Report on the All Wales Social Prescribing Research Network. Setting its Research Priorities for Wales. (2018)


Evidence & resources:

Related publications:

Social Prescribing: how to create a sustainable journey? (2018). Institute for Welsh Affairs, Click on Wales, October 2018. Carolyn Wallace, Judith Stone, Sally Rees

Social Prescribing in Wales. Public Health Wales Primary Care Hub, 2018

Social Prescribing project overview. Primary Care One Wales, 2017

Keywords: social prescribing, equality, citizen engagement, participatory research, collective intelligence

Contributed by: Carolyn Wallace, University of South Wales; Judith Stone, WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action)



Realist evaluation and feasibility trial of social prescribing (2019-2021)

The realist evaluation aspect of this project will focus on co-production of theory from a range of data collection from practice and service-users. Evidence from each ‘expert’ group is brought together equally in a programme theory. This approach explores what works about social prescribing, for whom, under which circumstances, and in what way, with a range of participants in an iterative formative cycle of data collection, theory development, and service adaptation in response to the developing theory. In this way, voices are equally valued, used to develop and test the theory at repeated stages as it develops, and then used to formatively develop and evaluate the service.

Keywords: social prescribing, realist evaluation, co-produced evidence

Links currently unavailable

Related publications: Realist evaluation of social prescribing: an exploration in to the context and mechanisms underpinning linking primary care with the voluntary sector Primary Health Care Research & Developmentn, Marcello Bertotti, Caroline Frostick, Patrick Hutt, Ratna Sohanpal, Dawn Carnes


Contributed by: Sarah L Brand – Cardiff University




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