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Social Prescribing

Study on the evaluation of the "Social Prescribing" funding call

Social prescribing is considered a promising concept for systematically addressing psychosocial needs in health care. Primary care facilities are connected with so-called 'link workers' who are specialised in the non-medical (especially social, emotional or practical) needs of patients. In dialogue with the patient, this specialist identifies non-medical measures and activities that meet the individual needs. These can range from sports programmes and nutritional counselling, to social, work or housing counselling, to community activities such as dance and walking groups. Patients are then referred to an appropriate service. Social prescribing thus aims to promote social participation and general health as well as to relieve the burden on the health system.
The concept is becoming increasingly popular internationally and is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Austria, the first implementation steps were tested above all in the health goal process and in the expansion of primary care. Based on the positive experiences, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection is promoting the establishment and expansion of social prescribing from 2023-2024 in 15 primary care facilities and their catchment areas. The NPO Competence Center accompanies the implementation with a scientific evaluation, which is to answer the following research questions:

  1.  Which stakeholders are affected by the development and expansion of social prescribing?

  2. What are the approaches to implementing social prescribing?

  3. What effects does social prescribing have in different dimensions (social, economic, psychological/physiological) on selected stakeholders?

  4. To what extent (quantity) do identified effects occur?


The social impacts of social prescribing are thus both qualitatively assessed and partially quantified in their breadth. This is done by means of two different evaluation designs, in which link workers, health professionals, patients and cooperation partners in particular are analysed as central stakeholders. The first part is a process evaluation, which examines the current implementation of social prescribing through process data analysis, qualitative guideline interviews and focus groups. The second part is the outcome evaluation, which analyses the social value of social prescribing in Austria in the form of an impact analysis. Qualitative guideline interviews and focus groups as well as two quantitative surveys (online and by telephone) are used here.


Mag.rer.soc.oec. Eva More-Hollerweger

Eva More-Hollerweger

Senior Researcher, Chairperson of the NPO Institute (Association)
Responsibilities: Responsibilities: NPOs, Civil Society, Volunteering, Evaluations and Strategic Management.
Julian Kettl, BA

Julian Kettl

Responsibilities: Arbeit und Arbeitsmarkt, Social Prescribing
Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Schöggl, B.Sc.

Stefan Schöggl

Responsibilities: Impact Analyses, SROI Analyses, Social Innovation, Thematic Areas: Education, Culture, Social-Ecological Sustainability