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  • Stephanie Tierney, Kamal R. Mahtani, Geoff Wong, Anne-Marie Boylan
three sets of hands, palms up on top of one another, holding a paper cut out of a family. © Shutterstock

Social prescribing connector schemes can support patients to engage in social prescribing activities. Those undertaking this role reflect the reality that before patients access local services/activities, they may need to be informed about them, motivated to consider them as an alternative to medical care, or helped with barriers to attending them.

The role can take several formats, as our research in this area has shown; all involve directing patients to groups, events or organisations, often in the voluntary/community sector, to help with problems that do not have a medical basis (e.g. housing issues, loneliness or low confidence). 'Link worker' is a title that NHS England uses for connector roles delivered by dedicated staff employed to spend time with patients; they will assess a person's needs and develop a plan with them to improve their health and well-being. Alternatively, 'care navigators' are often existing members of staff within a surgery (e.g. receptionists, practice manager); these individuals will signpost patients to available local groups, organisations or services that may help with their particular problem.


We are conducting a programme of work on the topic of social prescribing connector roles. This has included a review of the existing literature, which aimed to answer the following questions:

  • What are the outcomes associated with social prescribing connector schemes in primary care?
  • Which are the mechanisms that produce these outcomes?
  • Under what conditions (context) are these mechanisms activated?

The following brief video gives a summary of what we set out to do in this review. 


Findings from the review have been published in BMC Medicine

Click here for an infographic that summarises our results.

 We also have an associated paper that explored how the role was being implemented across England, based on data from a Freedom of Information Request:

 We are working closely with service users and providers to help shape our work. Our outputs will be useful for those planning or providing social prescribing connector schemes, by generating information on how best to design, deliver or optimise a service to bring about desired outcomes.

> PPI steering group

Meet the team:


Volunteering and social prescribing

Stephanie Tierney, Kamal R. Mahtani, Amadea Turk, Geoff Wong

to 17 April 2020

The role of Gardens, Libraries and Museums in supporting well-being

Stephanie Tierney, Kamal R. Mahtani, Amadea Turk

to 19 March 2020

Social prescribing connector schemes

Stephanie Tierney, Kamal R. Mahtani, Geoff Wong, Anne-Marie Boylan

to 14 March 2020

Exploring social prescribing needs for rural communities: A healthy community fair in a community pub

Amadea Turk, Stephanie Tierney, Kamal R. Mahtani

to 26 February 2020