Project details

Linking medical practices with the social sector through the concept of social prescribing

Duration: 01.04.2021 - 31.03.2024
Research Team:

Sinah Afra Noemi Evers (Projektleitung)


Prof. Dr. Ansgar Gerhardus

Project Type: Promotional Project


Background: Many patients visit primary care practices with problems that are not primarily medical in nature. Social problems account for approximately 14% of consultations in German family medicine practices (Jobst & Joos, 2014). However, these do not fall within the scope of physicians' expertise and pose challenges for them. For instance, assessing an individual’s social background comprehensively takes a considerable amount of time, which is limited in primary care settings. Additionally, keeping track of all the specialized local resources can be challenging, as the offerings are often unclear and subject to change (Stumm et al., 2019). To address social issues within the primary care practice, over 50% of family doctors, for example, express an interest in having an institutionalized point of contact to connect patients dealing with issues like poverty, housing, or loneliness (Zimmermann et al., 2018). Social Prescribing aims to bridge this gap. Individuals seeking healthcare having social issues are to be connected effectively with the social sector and supported in their local community. This concept originated in the United Kingdom, where it is an integral part of the national health strategy. There, several thousand so-called "link workers" are already operating at the intersection of health and social support, providing advice and mediation services (NHS, 2019).

Objectives: The doctoral project pursues two overarching goals. Firstly, it aims to enhance the understanding of Social Prescribing. The term Social Prescribing encompasses a variety of different conceptual implementations and objectives. By examining the theories used for Social Prescribing, it seeks to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the successful implementation of Social Prescribing. Secondly, the German health care system will be examined with regard to holistically addressing health and social aspects.

Methodological approach: In a cumulative work, a scoping review will be conducted initially, with the research question focused on identifying the theories used in studies for planning or evaluating Social Prescribing. Subsequently, there will be a survey to assess the current situation and potential opportunities within the German context.

Further information


Jobst, D., & Joos, S. (2014). Soziale Patientenanliegen—Eine Erhebung in Hausarztpraxen. ZFA Z Allg Med, 90(12).

NHS. (2019). The NHS Long Term

Stumm, J., Thierbach, C., Peter, L., Schnitzer, S., Dini, L., Heintze, C., & Döpfmer, S. (2019). Coordination of care for multimorbid patients from the perspective of general practitioners—A qualitative study. BMC Fam Pract, 20(1), 160.

Zimmermann, T., Mews, C., Kloppe, T., Tetzlaff, B., Hadwiger, M., von dem Knesebeck, O., & Scherer, M. (2018). Soziale Probleme in der hausärztlichen Versorgung – Häufigkeit, Reaktionen, Handlungsoptionen und erwünschter Unterstützungsbedarf aus der Sicht von Hausärztinnen und Hausärzten. Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes, 131–132, 81–89.