Speaking the same language – a scoping review to identify the terminology associated with social prescribing

Simon Newstead, Megan Elliott, Dawn Cavanagh, Sion Tetlow, Carolyn Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Aim: To identify the social prescribing-related terminology within the peer-reviewed literature of the UK and the grey literature from Wales.

Background: Social prescribing has seen a period of development that has been accompanied by a proliferation of related terminology and a lack of standardisation in the manner in which it is employed. This creates barriers to engagement and impairs communication, both between professionals and members of the public. The Wales School for Social Prescribing Research and Public Health Wales committed to the development of a glossary of terms for social prescribing, to facilitate the clarification and standardisation of the associated terminology. Here, we describe the first step in that process.

Method: A scoping review of the peer-reviewed UK literature and Welsh grey literature was conducted. The titles and abstracts of 46,242 documents and the full text of 738 documents were screened. Data were charted from 205 documents. Data capture included terminology, the location within the UK of the research or intervention described in the article, and the perspective from which the article was authored. A general inductive approach was used to categorise the terms by theme.

Findings: This research serves to highlight the breadth and diversity of the terminology associated with social prescribing. Results demonstrate aspects of shared commonality and clear distinction between the terminology from the two literature sources. The greatest contributions of terms were from articles that examined research and/or interventions in England and that were authored from the perspective of health or health and social care. The research indicates that nation- and sector-specific terms may not be adequately represented in the literature at large. Looking forward, it will be important to ensure that social prescribing terminology within the UK literature is culturally relevant and accurately reflects the terminology used by the workforce who encounter and deliver social prescribing.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere67
Number of pages10
JournalPrimary Health Care Research & Development
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2023


  • community connection
  • glossary of terms
  • scoping review
  • social prescribing
  • terminology


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