Do people perceive benefits in the use of social prescribing to address loneliness and/or social isolation? A qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature

Article


Liebmann, M., Pitman, A., Hsueh, YC., Bertotti, M. and Pearce, E. 2022. Do people perceive benefits in the use of social prescribing to address loneliness and/or social isolation? A qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature. BMC Health Services Research. 22 (Art. 1264). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-022-08656-1
AuthorsLiebmann, M., Pitman, A., Hsueh, YC., Bertotti, M. and Pearce, E.
Abstract

Social prescribing is a means by which clinical services can link individuals who have psychological, social and/or practical needs with non-clinical services within their local community. There is a lack of empirical evidence investigating whether social prescribing helps such individuals and which interventions are the most effective and accepted by them to address their loneliness. This meta-synthesis aimed to synthesise findings from qualitative studies exploring experiences of people (of any age) who participated in any social prescribing intervention aimed at loneliness and/or social isolation to ascertain whether they felt it helped address loneliness/isolation and the potential mechanisms by which this might occur. We conducted a systematic search of 5 electronic databases and 4 other databases that would yield grey literature in April 2021 to identify qualitative articles on this topic written in English or French. We assessed the quality of the included studies using recognised tools, and synthesised findings using the approach of thematic analysis. We identified 19 records analysed (e.g. journal articles) from 18 studies meeting inclusion criteria. Our analysis identified three themes: (1) increased sense of wellbeing (with six subthemes), (2) factors that engendered an ongoing desire to connect with others, and (3) perceived drawbacks of social prescribing. These themes illustrate the benefits and difficulties people perceive in social prescribing programmes addressing loneliness and social isolation, with an overall balance of more benefits than drawbacks in social prescribing participation. However, given the unhelpful aspects of social prescribing identified by some participants, greater thought should be given to potential harms. Moreover, further qualitative and quantitative research is needed to better understand mechanisms and effectiveness, and how different components of social prescribing might be best matched to individual participants.

JournalBMC Health Services Research
Journal citation22 (Art. 1264)
ISSN1472-6963
Year2022
PublisherBMC
Publisher's version
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Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-022-08656-1
Publication dates
Online19 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted04 Oct 2022
Deposited20 Oct 2022
Copyright holder© 2022 The Authors
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