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Evaluating the impact of a community-based social prescribing intervention on people with type 2 diabetes in North East England: mixed-methods study protocol
  1. Suzanne Moffatt1,
  2. John Wildman2,
  3. Tessa M Pollard3,
  4. Linda Penn1,
  5. Nicola O’Brien1,
  6. Mark S Pearce1,
  7. Josephine M Wildman1
  1. 1 Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2 Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Suzanne Moffatt; suzanne.moffatt{at}


Introduction Social prescribing enables healthcare professionals to use voluntary and community sector resources to improve support for people with long-term conditions. It is widely promoted in the UK as a way to address complex health, psychological and social issues presented in primary care, yet there is insufficient evidence of effectiveness or value for money. This study aims to evaluate the impact and costs of a link-worker social prescribing intervention on the health and healthcare use of adults aged 40–74 with type 2 diabetes, living in a multi-ethnic area of high socioeconomic deprivation.

Methods and analysis Mixed-methods approach combining (1) quantitative quasi-experimental methods to evaluate the effects of social prescribing on health and healthcare use and cost-effectiveness analysis and (2) qualitative ethnographic methods to observe how patients engage with social prescribing. Quantitative data comprise Secondary Uses Service data and Quality Outcomes Framework data. The primary outcome is glycated haemoglobin, and secondary outcomes are secondary care use, systolic blood pressure, weight/body mass index, cholesterol and smoking status; these data will be analysed longitudinally over 3 years using four different control conditions to estimate a range of treatment effects. The ranges where the intervention is cost-effective will be identified from the perspective of the healthcare provider. Qualitative data comprise participant observation and interviews with purposively sampled service users, and focus groups with link-workers (intervention providers). Analysis will involve identification of themes and synthesising and theorising the data. Finally, a coding matrix will identify convergence and divergence among all study components.

Ethics and dissemination UK NHS Integrated Research Approval System Ethics approved the quantitative research (Reference no. 18/LO/0631). Durham University Research Ethics Committee approved the qualitative research. The authors will publish the findings in peer-reviewed journals and disseminate to practitioners, service users and commissioners via a number of channels including professional and patient networks, conferences and social media. Results will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journals.

  • primary care
  • public health
  • social prescribing
  • mixed methods

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Contributors SM, LP conceived of the study. All authors participated in its design: JW led the design of WPs 1 and 2, supported by JMW and MSP; TMP collaborated with SM and led the design of WP 3; SM, LP, JMW and NO’B designed the EQ-5D-5L study. SM drafted the manuscript and all authors contributed to its refinement. All authors have read and approved the final version.

  • Funding This work is funded by the National Institute of Health Research, Public Health Research Programme, Community Groups and Health Promotion (grant no. 16/122/33). The research was informed by a NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) funded project (project reference: SPHR-FUS-PES-WTW).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval UK NHS Integrated Research Approval System Ethics, Durham University Research Ethics Committee and Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; peer reviewed for ethical and funding approval prior to submission.