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Realist Evaluation of Social PrEscribing with time CrediTs.


Demand for healthcare is increasing. 20% of patients see their GP for issues such as anxiety, depression and low mood.

These can be 'treated' in the community through Social Prescribing (SP). SP is a way to link patients with other sources of community support such as gardening, arts and well-being groups.

We want to find out whether patients who have SP show improved self-esteem, well-being, and mood and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Taking part in community activities has also been shown to have a range of benefits for patients. Giving time in this way can improve social support and feelings of well-being and reduce feelings of isolation.

Time Credits are a way for people to gain something for the time they give up when they engage in a community activity. One hour of time gets one Time Credit voucher. These can be used to pay for a range of leisure activities and other opportunities.

Study aim

The aim of the study is to develop a guide for using social prescribing in Wales. We want to see whether a social prescribing scheme which uses Time Credits works for patients and staff and to develop this scheme for a further study.

As part of this study, we plan to ask patients to take part in SP with Time Credits and to assess how well it works. This is being run across four GP surgeries in Cardiff for 12 months.

We want to understand what worked for which patients and what health and well-being benefits they may have experienced. We will do this by using questionnaires before and after the patient takes part in the SP, to see if they report improvements in how they feel, and by interviewing some of the patients who have taken part in SP about their experience of taking part.

We will also interview the staff in the surgery and those involved in SP, and look at the patient notes and clinical data for those patients who took part to see if there have been any changes.

We will also measure whether providing SP may lead to a reduction in costs for patients and society in the longer-term.

Developing the guide

The guide will be developed by working with a group of GPs, staff from the GP surgeries, social prescribers and patients to advise on the further developments and refinement of our ideas. We will also talk to this group about the possibility of a larger study in the future.


Chief Investigator(s)
Funder(s) Health and Care Research Wales
Sponsor Cardiff University

Key facts

Start date 13 Jan 2020
End date 30 Jun 2021
Grant value £245,644
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