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The RX Community Initiative: getting to community

In this episode, Kate Mulligan from the Alliance for Healthier Communities joins host Andrea Bodkin to talk about social prescribing. 

In social prescribing, every primary health care visit – whether to a doctor or nurse practitioner- includes a check in about the social determinants of health, such as housing, food, connection to other people. Where a need is identified, the practitioner refers the client to a support person such as a health promoter, nurse or link worker, who co-creates a plan to address what matters to the client and supports you in taking the initial steps in your plan.

It would be easy for people to think that social prescribing is an “add on” or nice to have program that doesn’t directly address health outcomes. An important part of social prescribing includes measuring and tracking how addressing social needs improves health.  The Alliance has just completed a research project where 11 Community Health Centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres participated. The research project found that new resources weren’t needed for the initiative, rather health centres re-engineered their existing structures.  Results include a 50% reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation, an improvement in perceived mental health, and a reduction in primary care visits.


The Alliance is hosting a virtual celebration of social prescribing on May 27th at 12:30 pm. Register for the celebration here



Learn more about social prescribing on the Alliance’s website:

You can also read about the National Health Service (U.K.)’s social prescribing initiative and  


About Kate:

Kate Mulligan

I’m interested in healthy cities and have collaborated or advised with the School of CitiesMédecins Sans Frontières (MSF) CanadaSidewalk Toronto‘s Community Services Advisory Group, The Nature ConservancyAltogether Better and the Social Prescribing Network.

Prior to working with the Alliance, my research focused primarily on the political ecology of climate change and human health in Toronto. With Toronto Public Health, I led adaptation and mitigation research and action in two main areas: 1) food system safety,  security and sustainability and 2) preventing vector-borne diseases. I worked with researchers, policy makers, residents, students and practitioners to understand and communicate the determinants of health in Toronto. We used this knowledge to help identify and implement policy changes to improve public health in our city.

My work has been funded and/or supported by Toronto Public Health through the Healthy Public Policy Directorate and the Toronto Food Strategy, Health Canada’s Climate Change and Innovation Bureau, the Institute for Global Health Equity and Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Environment & Climate Change and the Centre for Social Innovation. For an overview of my approach to the political ecology of urban health and building healthy public policy, check out my Public Health Policy Rounds on Designer Healthscapes.

Listen here




Audio file