Latest Update in Social Prescribing

There is an increasing focus, both internationally and locally, on social prescribing, the linking of health, community and social services together so as to minimise siloing across sectors and better support the complex social and health needs of individuals and communities.

Interest in social prescribing in Australia is growing as the health, economic and social benefits of supporting general practitioners and other health professionals to connect individuals to non-clinical services becomes clearer.  Estimates suggest that approximately 20 percent of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems, with only 40% of GPs in Australia co-ordinating clients to link with community and social services.  Many risk factors for poor health and wellbeing can be addressed through social prescribing including loneliness, social anxiety, mental health problems, housing instability and multimorbidity (RACGP, 2020).

Students from La Trobe University undertook a project to further explore social prescribing and the role of occupational therapy. Key components of the project included:

  • Environmental scan of social prescribing programs (nationally and internationally) and the role of occupational therapists
  • Comprehensive literature review on social prescribing
  • Survey of occupational therapists understanding of social prescribing and the role of occupational therapy. The online survey resulted in 230 responses, providing a richness of data, insights and experiences.

This student project including the survey results will be used to assist and inform OTA in future next steps on social prescribing. 

We thank all occupational therapists for their efforts in completing the survey and the students for undertaking this valuable project. 

Reference: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) & Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF). (2020). Social Prescribing Roundtable November 2019: Report. Melbourne, Victoria.

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