16 April 2021

It is well established that between 80 and 90% of health outcomes are linked to social determinants of health. These include health related behaviours, for example tobacco use, alcohol use, diet and exercise, and socioeconomic factors, for example education, job status, family and social support and income. In addition, environmental factors like air quality, water quality, and the built environment have an impact. It is also well established that around 20 per cent of patients go to their general practitioner for primarily social problems.

Dr Anant Jani on the launch of the Social Prescribing Interventions Observatory and the delivery of interventions.


To understand how social needs are impacting England’s citizens, we created the Social Needs Observatory, which is updated monthly and tracks individuals presenting to primary care with issues associated with mental health, substance misuse, employment, money, managing a long-term condition, abuse, homelessness and parenting.  The data updated on a monthly basis can support a learning health system approach by providing feedback to NHS regions on the areas of greatest need for the individuals in their population and can also inform the social prescriptions that could be offered in local areas to meet these needs.

Using the data from the Social Prescribing Observatory, we find that when compared to a period pre-COVID 19 (Dec 2019-Dec 2020), there was a substantial increase in several social need categories during the pandemic (Dec 2020-Jan 2021).  This has important implications for steps primary care can take to address and, ideally, prevent these needs.

The data will be updated on a monthly basis and lists five intervention categories:

  • Health education offered
  • Referral to benefits agency
  • Referral To Physical Activity
  • Social Prescribing For Mental Health
  • Referral to Arts Therapy Services

Conclusio's free webinar Social Prescribing: Building a framework for wellness takes place at 7pm on 29 April, register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-BuwM3pSTmyS6SOpaYsIRw