Social prescribing programmes to prevent or delay frailty in community-dwelling older adults

Toby O. Smith, Oluseyi F. Jimoh, Jane Cross, Louise Allan, Anne Corbett, Euan Sadler, Mizanur Khondoker, Jennifer Whitty, Jose M. Valderas, Chris Fox

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The increasing incidence of frailty is a health and social care challenge. Social prescription is advocated as an important approach to allow health professionals to link patients with sources of support in the community. This study aimed to determine the current evidence on the effectiveness of social prescribing programmes to delay or reduce frailty in frail older adults living in the community. A systematic literature review of published (DARE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, NICE and SCIE, NHS Economic Evaluation Database) and unpublished databases (OpenGrey; WHO Clinical Trial Registry; were searched to July 2019. Studies were eligible if they reported health, social or economic outcomes on social prescribing, community referral, referral schemes, wellbeing programmes or interventions when a non-health link worker was the intervention provider to people who are frail living in the community. 1079 unique studies were screened for eligibility. No papers were eligible. There is therefore a paucity of evidence reporting the effectiveness of social prescribing programmes for frail older adults living in the community. Given that frailty is a clinical priority and social prescribing is considered a key future direction in the provision of community care, this is a major limitation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019


  • Social prescribing
  • community referral
  • referral schemes
  • well-being programmes
  • older adults

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