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Valuing the impact of health and social care programmes using social return on investment analysis: how have academics advanced the methodology? A protocol for a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature
  1. Claire Louise Hutchinson1,
  2. Angela Berndt1,
  3. Susan Gilbert-Hunt1,
  4. Stacey George2,
  5. Julie Ratcliffe3
  1. 1 School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2 College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. 3 Institute for Choice, UniSA Business School, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire Louise Hutchinson; claire.hutchinson{at}


Introduction Unlike other forms of evaluation, social return on investment (SROI) methodology offers a way of placing values on personal, social and community outcomes, not just economic outcomes. Developed in 2000, there have been calls for greater academic involvement in development of SROI, which to date has been more typically implemented in-house or by consultants. This protocol describes a systematic review of SROI analysis conducted on health and social care programmes which represent a significant sector of social enterprise internationally. The aims of the systematic review are to (1) identify the extent to which academics have adopted SROI methodology, (2) how academics have interpreted, used and developed SROI methodology and (3) to assess the quality of studies published under peer review.

Methods and analysis The systematic review will include peer-reviewed studies since 2000 published in English. Search terms will be ‘social return on investment’ or ‘SROI’. Health and social care interventions will be identified in the initial screening given the proliferation of possible key words in these areas. Databases to be searched include Web of Science, Scopus, Medline, Social Care Online and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Two reviewers will independently conduct initial screening based on titles and abstracts against the inclusion criteria. Data extracted will include date of intervention, country, study design, aim of intervention/programme, participants and setting, health and social care measures used, and SROI ratio. The quality of studies will be assessed by two reviewers using a SROI quality framework designed for the purpose of this study.

Ethics and dissemination The systematic review will review existing published academic literature; as such, ethics approval is not required for this study. A paper of the systematic review will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42018080195.

  • health economics
  • social care
  • social impact
  • social return on investment
  • sroi
  • social care

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  • Contributors CLH, AB and JR conceptualised this study. CLH developed the quality framework. CLH and AB wrote the first draft. JR, SG-H and SG agreed the methodology, provided feedback on the quality framework, provided feedback on the first draft of this protocol paper and agreed the final draft. CLH and AB will lead the systematic review. Amendments to this protocol were primary conducted by CLH and JR. All authors reviewed and approved final amendments.

  • Funding This work was supported by The Lifetime Support Authority, South Australian Government grant number GA00040. The funder was not involved in developing this protocol.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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