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Social prescribing for children and young people with neurodisability and their families initiated in a hospital setting: A systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Laura Gordon, Dr Anna BasuORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.Objectives Social prescribing (SP) is a non-medical intervention in which professionals refer patients to a link worker (LW), who connects them with appropriate support. Children and young people (CYP) with neurodisability often have unmet needs and may bypass community initiatives. We undertook a review of hospital-initiated SP for CYP with neurodisability. Design Systematic review following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidance and using Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Data sources Medline, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science and FutureNHS, searched from 1 January 2000 to 19 October 2023, with no language restrictions. Eligibility criteria Studies describing SP interventions for CYP (ages 0-25 years) with neurodisability/neurodivergence. Exclusions: interventions outside of secondary care; with no description; or no LW. Data extraction and synthesis Two researchers independently screened references. Data were charted, summarised, quality assessments performed and narratively reviewed. Results After removal of duplicates, 518 references were identified. Following screening, eight articles (covering five SP schemes) were included. Rahi et al connected 68 families of CYP newly diagnosed with visual impairment to a community LW. Families needed information about social and educational services, and emotional support. Healthcare professionals had more time for clinical issues. Six papers described three different digital interventions supporting in total 86 CYP with traumatic brain injury and their families. Wade et al (2004, 2005a, 2005b) provided a website with core and individualised sessions, and weekly therapist support. Wade et al (2018) provided a smartphone application, website and weekly meetings with an online coach. These interventions boosted social behaviours. Wade et al (2014, 2015) found that online family problem-solving therapy improved overall child functioning compared with self-guided resources. Toutain et al (2009) provided non-medical support to 11 children with fetal alcohol syndrome and their mothers. No outcome data were provided. Studies reported benefits to health, well-being, healthcare usage, knowledge, skills, satisfaction and service delivery. Conclusion Literature describing hospital-initiated SP schemes for CYP with neurodisability, while sparse, suggests potential benefit. PROSPERO registration number CRD42022384188.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gordon K, Gordon L, Basu AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2023

Volume: 13

Issue: 12

Print publication date: 21/12/2023

Online publication date: 21/12/2023

Acceptance date: 27/11/2023

Date deposited: 19/02/2024

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-078097

PubMed id: 38135327


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