Intervention components of link worker social prescribing programmes: A scoping review

Health Soc Care Community. 2022 Nov;30(6):e3761-e3774. doi: 10.1111/hsc.14056. Epub 2022 Oct 1.


In the United Kingdom (UK), link worker social prescribing has emerged as an option to improve long-term condition management and address primary care patients' non-medical needs by linking patients with community-based activities and support. Social prescribing is a complex, heterogenous intervention, and there is currently no taxonomy of components to guide its implementation and evaluation. This study aimed to identify and categorise the components of link worker social prescribing schemes in the United Kingdom. A scoping review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted. Six databases were used to identify papers that met inclusion criteria. Eligible articles were original research studies in the United Kingdom describing interventions that included (1) initial referral of adults with chronic physical health conditions and/or unmet social needs from primary care to a link worker or equivalent role, (2) consultation with a link worker or equivalent role and (3) referral to a community-based or government service. Of the 1078 articles identified, 32 met study eligibility criteria, representing 22 social prescribing schemes. We drew from the template for intervention description and replication (TIDieR) to identify, organise and report intervention components. We found wide variations in geography, target populations and intervention components such as activities and procedures conducted by primary care staff and link workers, organisational and staffing configurations and use of tools and financing approaches to facilitate adoption. Intervention components are summarised into a taxonomy to guide future research, policy and practice efforts in addition to supporting standardised intervention reporting.

Keywords: intervention components; link workers; primary care; scoping review; social determinants of health; social prescribing.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • United Kingdom
  • Workforce