Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Exploration of Evaluation Practices in Social Prescribing Services in Ireland_ A Cross-Sectional Observational Study.pdf (1012.11 kB)

Exploration of evaluation practices in social prescribing services in Ireland: a cross-sectional observational study

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posted on 2024-03-19, 12:38 authored by Hayley Connolly, Natalie Delimata, Karen Galway, Bridget KielyBridget Kiely, Margaret Lawler, Jill Mulholland, Megan O'Grady, Deirdre Connolly

National health services in Ireland and the UK fund the majority of social prescribing services and have issued recommendations for evaluation. However, it is not known what outcomes are prioritised for evaluation within individual services and what evaluation methods are used to capture recommended outcomes. A survey was carried out to examine evaluation practices of social prescribing services on the island of Ireland. This study used a cross-sectional observational design. The sample was all the staff involved in delivering and/or managing SP services on the island of Ireland. Questionnaires were distributed at a national SP conference and online. Closed-response questions were analysed using descriptive statistics. Content analysis was used for open-ended questions. Eighty-four usable surveys were returned (50% from the Republic of Ireland and 50% from Northern Ireland). All respondents (100%) agreed on the importance of measuring SP outcomes. The most frequently measured outcomes were health and well-being (89.2%) and loneliness (84%). The least frequently measured outcome was the satisfaction of healthcare professionals referring to SP: 78.4% of respondents never measured this outcome. The most frequently used measurement tool was the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale, with 38/76 (50%) respondents using this measure. There was a lack of standardised measures identified for some outcomes. For example, 70% of respondents reported always measuring physical activity (PA), but only four respondents identified a specific PA measure. In open-ended questions, respondents recommended flexibility in evaluation methods to reflect the complexity and individualised focus of SP. They also identified the need for protected time to complete evaluations and recommended a national strategy to inform priorities in evaluations. This study demonstrates a wide variation on the island of Ireland on how SP services are measuring outcomes, with many outcomes rarely or never measured using standardised measures. Agreement is needed on a core outcome set for social prescribing in order to guide service delivery and evaluations. 


Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on reasonable request from the corresponding author


The original article is available at

Published Citation

Connolly H,, et al. Exploration of evaluation practices in social prescribing services in Ireland: a cross-sectional observational study. Healthcare (Basel). 2024;12(2):219.

Publication Date

16 January 2024

PubMed ID



  • General Practice




  • Published Version (Version of Record)

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