Objectives: This study provides some insight into the perceived benefits of an Arts on Prescription service in the U.K. according to referrers. Social prescribing provides a framework for emerging alternative approaches to mental distress. The aim of this study was to investigate the views of referrers to an Arts on Prescription programme regarding the quality and effectiveness of the service.
Study design: For this study, 10 individuals were recruited from a potential total of 148 referrers who had referred their clients to Arts on Prescription between 2008 and 2011.
Method: Qualitative, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted and the findings were thematically analysed.
Results: It was evident that referrers value Arts on Prescription. It is considered to be a therapeutic, relaxing and safe environment that is professionally led. Referrers reported that their clients take pride in the work they have created at Arts on Prescription. They believe that the programme helps their clients to build confidence, find meaningful occupation, develop skills and express themselves. The social opportunities provided by the programme are considered significant, as well as the peer support that is evident.
Conclusions: Social prescribing enables general practitioners to have greater options when helping patients with complex social problems. As such, the programme is clearly valued by referrers for their clients. The programme offers valuable social benefits that are becoming reduced in an era of closure of day service provision. There is concern regarding whether such valuable resources will be commissioned in the future.
Copyright © 2012 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.