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The Oxford Social Prescribing Research Network from the University of Oxford have today launched a new website, bringing together world-class evidence-based research and expertise from the cultural and heritage sector to support people's health and well-being through social prescribing.

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This interdisciplinary network consists of members of the university's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (part of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences) and colleagues from Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), alongside members of the public, clinical providers, policymakers and other researchers.

Together, they are working to understand different perspectives on social prescribing, how patients' health and well-being can benefit, and the mechanisms through which social prescribing delivery can be optimised.

What is Social Prescribing?

Social prescribing recognises that people's health and well-being can be influenced by social, economic and environmental circumstances. It seeks to address people's needs holistically, empowering them to take more control of their health. It involved linking people with 'non-medical' needs affecting their health or well-being (e.g. loneliness, dept, housing difficulties) to relevant local groups or organisations. 

Through social prescribing, people are connected to charitable, voluntary and community organisations. They may be encouraged to engage with greenspace, library, museum, heritage and arts environments. Activities could include luncheon clubs, walking groups, debt advice or cultural pursuits. 

Why now?

While research on social prescribing is increasing, there is a need for more robust and systematic evidence of its efficacy and how it is best deployed. This is an area in which Oxford is well placed to become a world leader. 

The network is committed to using evidence-based research and innovation to address key influences and challenges that affect people's health and well-being. This is particularly relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term consequences that this will have on people's lives. We also aim to better understand the effects of interventions such as engagement with GLAM's collections on people's well-being and mental health. 

The website

The new Oxford Social Prescribing Research Network website is dedicated to exploring ways in which community organisations and groups can support people's health and well-being, and how best to integrate evidence and innovation around social prescribing. 

All past, ongoing and new projects will be hosted on the website, alongside research findings, blogs, news items, reports and events. 

Discover the website and stay up-to-date with our completed and ongoing work. 

For more information about our work, please contact any of the following network members:

Stephanie Tierneystephanie.tierney@phc.ox.ac.uk

Kamal R. Mahtani: kamal.mahtani@phc.ox.ac.uk

Lucy Shaw: lucy.shaw@glam.ox.ac.uk