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Evaluation of social prescribing for people in later life

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Edinburgh United Kingdom Adult Nursing Epidemiology Health Psychology Other Other Social Work

About the Project

The Advanced Care Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh is a new £20m interdisciplinary research collaboration aiming to transform later life with person centred integrated care

The vision of the ACRC is to play a vital role in addressing the Grand Challenge of ageing by transformational research that will support the functional ability of people in later life so they can contribute to their own welfare for longer. With fresh and diverse thinking across interdisciplinary perspectives our academy students will work to creatively embed deep understanding, data science, artificial intelligence, assistive technologies and robotics into systems of health and social care supporting the independence, dignity and quality-of-life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments.

The ACRC Academy will equip future leaders to drive society’s response to the challenges of later life care provision; a problem which is growing in scale, complexity and urgency. Our alumni will become leaders in across a diverse range of pioneering and influential roles in the public, private and third sectors.

This project will look at the concept of ‘social prescribing’. ‘Social prescribing’ is when healthcare professionals, such as general practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team refer patients to community-based organisations for support and help with beyond medical treatment. Increasingly in the UK, social prescribing is being developed with ‘Link Workers’ who work between the GP and the patient, to assess non-medical needs and link patients with suitable community resources. Link workers work in a range of settings, such as areas of deprivation where health inequalities are largest. This project will look at how social prescribing can help people in later life, who often experience social isolation and loneliness. Despite its growing popularity we know relatively little about the effectiveness of social prescribing, its intended and unintended impacts, and the views of people in later life. This PhD project will explore the wider consequences of social prescribing, including unintended and potentially perverse consequences. The PhD is interdisciplinary, with supervisors in General Practice and social work and drawing on the resources of the Advanced Care Research Centre. We welcome applicants with a background in any area of health or social care, with a special interest in older people.


  1. Scoping review of the literature on social prescribing for people in later life
  2. Impact of social prescribing on third sector organisation and work-load in primary care
  3. Intended and unintended consequences for patients receiving social prescribing
  4. Recommendations for optimising the role and reach of social prescribing for those in later life


An undergraduate degree in health or social care or a related discipline such as psychology or sociology

Funding Notes

PhD's are fully funded with an above industry stipend for the full 4 year period.

The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 3 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.

Application forms are now available here:
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Find more information on how to apply on the How to Apply section of our website:
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