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Social prescribing in community pharmacy: a systematic review and thematic synthesis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura LindseyORCiD, Stephen Hughes, Dr Adam RathboneORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Pharmaceutical Press, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Background: Social prescribing is a tool for healthcare professionals to help connect people in their communities to local, non-clinical groups and services. It aims to improve mental health and physical wellbeing, and reduce negative health impacts of loneliness, poor health and disability. As a funded policy shift in the UK care model, it brings together networks of multi-disciplinary health professionals with community-based services such as delivered by the voluntary sector. Despite community pharmacy gaining a policy mention, little is known about whether it is enacting social prescribing in daily practice or is included in the envisaged local network interventions. Objective: This review aims to explore the involvement of community pharmacy in social prescribing. Method: Medical and social electronic databases were systematically searched. A narrative synthesis was undertaken to present the data. The review was registered with PROSPERO. Results: 6 studies were included in the review. The quality of reporting in the studies varied. Community pharmacy is involved in: non-clinical interventions, acting as social prescriber and service provider; biomedical and psychosocial assessments for targeted referral to non-clinical services; and a mixture of referral and collaborative service delivery. Pharmacists predominantly had a biomedical approach to social prescribing, targeting populations predetermined as having higher medical needs, such as the elderly, vulnerable, mental health or inactive. Training for pharmacists, when present, included skills in assessment and intervention delivery. Studies included biomedical outcomes, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, HbA1c and cholesterol; achieving significant improvements over short to long-term timeframes, as well as social and community benefits.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lindsey L, Hughes S, Rathbone AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Pharmaceutical Journal

Year: 2021

Volume: 307

Issue: 7951

Online publication date: 21/07/2021

Acceptance date: 23/06/2021

Date deposited: 27/07/2021

ISSN (print): 0031-6873

ISSN (electronic): 2053-6186

Publisher: Pharmaceutical Press


DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.1.92837


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