GPs must prescribe more than medication

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Australia’s health professionals are falling behind when it comes to addressing their patients’ social problems such as loneliness and isolation, which can have hugely negative consequences on overall health and wellbeing.

With 20 per cent of patients consulting their GP for what are essentially social problems, medication is not always the answer. Social prescribing is about linking patients to social services or social groups. A GP, for example, may suggest a running group so their patient can enjoy the benefits of exercise and interaction.

While social prescribing won’t cure loneliness – and all the physical and psychological problems that emerge as a result – it provides a way to crowdsource available resources and help support people who would benefit from increased activity within their communities, says Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the Expert Committee on Quality Care at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

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