A new paper on social referral programmes authored by IPR researchers Emily Rempel, Professor Julie Barnett, Dr Hannah Durrant and Emma Wilson has been published in the October edition of the BMJ's journal BMJ Open.

'Preparing the prescription: a review of the aim and measurement of social referral programmes' examines 41 studies and reports on these innovative programmes, and focuses in particular on the aims and methods they used to measure success. Uncovering five core aims associated with 154 distinct measurements, the paper warns in conclusion that while the aims and measures of social referral are diffuse, and the link between them undertheorised, we cannot know if social prescribing is effective. The authors call for critical consideration of the active ingredients in social referral programmes.

The paper and the work it describes are part of the IPR's Social Prescribing project, an initiative funded by Innovate UK which aims to help GPs and patients to identify and access local wellbeing opportunities using tools like mobile phone apps.