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Link workers are being employed to work in GP practices and are key to social prescribing in primary care. They encourage patients to talk about challenging social and/or emotional circumstances affecting their health. Link workers can then connect patients to groups/organisations/services in the community that are relevant to their needs.

A questionnaire sent to link workers in 2020 found that a third of those who responded were thinking about leaving their job. Being a link worker, although rewarding, can be difficult. They support people who are finding life challenging (e.g. because they are lonely, are worried about where they live or how they will afford food). Link workers may not always receive the training or supervision they need to manage the stress that can come from the job.

The proposed research will fill a gap in knowledge that we have identified from previous research we have carried out on the link worker role. The study aims to understand factors that shape how link workers find doing their job. It will explore how these factors affect their wish to stay in or leave their job.

We will ask link workers to complete a questionnaire. We will then invite some of them to be interviewed. Interviews will allow us to explore findings from the questionnaire in more detail. Before interviews, link workers will be asked to take photographs of things that reflect their experiences of the job. These photographs will be discussed as part of the interview.

Information from the questionnaire and interviews will allow us to understand how link workers experience their role. This is important for managers and policy makers to hear. It will allow us to think of ways to help link workers feel confident in their job and to develop ways to assist them.

For further details, please contact Principal Investigator on the study - Stephanie Tierney ( 


A protocol for the project can be found here.