Effect of exercise referral schemes upon health and well-being: initial observational insights using individual patient data meta-analysis from the National Referral Database

The Yard, Edinburgh

Year of publication
Matthew Wade, Steven Mann, Rob J Copeland, James Steele

Research study into exercise referral (social prescribing) scheme, which finds that although there are some minor benefits particularly around mental health, the physical benefits are not significant. This finding somewhat contradicts the conclusions of many smaller evaluations. However, the authors suggest that the implementation of the model, and not the model itself, may be a key factor behind variations, and requires further research.

Objectives: To examine if exercise referral schemes (ERSs) are associated with meaningful changes in health and well-being in a large cohort of individuals throughout England, Scotland, and Wales from the National Referral Database.

Method: health data from 23,731 patients

Findings: We considered whether meaningful health and well-being changes occur in people who are undergoing ERSs. These results demonstrate that, although many health and well-being outcomes improved, the changes did not achieve meaningful levels. This suggests the need to consider the implementation of ERSs more critically to discern how to maximise their effectiveness.

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