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Access Elemental and UCL partner in social prescribing research



The social biobehavioural research group at University College London (UCL) and social prescribing platform provider Access Elemental, have partnered to support research into social prescribing.

The partnership will provide insights into the effectiveness of social prescribing services, helping to address health inequalities and improve access for individuals from different backgrounds across the United Kingdom.

Social prescribing enables professionals to refer people to non-medical services to improve their health and wellbeing, such as art therapy, social clubs or exercise classes.

Research shows that social prescribing can lead to improved mental and physical health and a reduction in the use of medical services.

Dr Feifei Bu, Senior Research Fellow in Statistics/Epidemiology at the Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, said:

“Our partnership with Access Elemental provides us with a completely unique view of social prescribing services, representing a crucial investment in the future of social prescribing.

“By working together, our ambition is to understand whether specific health needs are being met for individuals with diverse backgrounds and conditions, and what kind of activities and services are most effective in supporting them.

“This research could, in turn, help to relieve pressure on NHS services and improve quality of care across the UK. We are excited to see the outcomes of our research.”

UCL researchers will be able to analyse Access Elemental’s anonymised data set, which provides a nationwide view of social prescribing services, including detailed information about why people are referred to social prescribing services and what activities or interventions they receive.

The data also gives researchers the ability to compare social prescribing data across UK borders and look at information related to outcome measures, such as wellbeing and quality of life.

The insight gained from Access Elemental is being used to investigate the impact of social prescribing on individuals’ health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on those with mental health needs and musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.

It is also being used to inform a paper exploring issues issues related to inequality for accessing social prescribing services, including age, deprivation levels, and routes into social prescribing from GP practices and social prescribing hubs.

Access Elemental holds social prescribing data across 1,044 social prescribing hubs, with 297,000 referrals made into local community and voluntary services and activities.

The data sets will be analysed by the UCL research group to provide insights into how social prescribing can be better tailored to meet the needs of diverse groups.

Jennifer Neff, Managing Director of Access Elemental Social Prescribing, said:

“We are tremendously proud to partner with the social biobehavioural research group at UCL to improve research into social prescribing services.

“Our partnership will increase understanding into how to connect individuals with community-based support, including activities and services that meet practical, social, and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing.

“At Access Elemental, we believe in leveraging technology to improve the health and wellbeing of people and by providing access to our data, we can fulfil this ambition by making sure our systems can deliver personalised services that benefit the lives of individuals across the UK.”

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