Abstract: Background: Nature-based social prescribing programmes such as "bluespace prescription" may promote public health and health improvement of individuals with long-term conditions. However, there is limited systematically synthesised evidence that investigates the contexts and mechanisms of Bluespace Prescription Programmes (BPPs) that could inform programme theories for policy and practice.
Methods: We conducted a realist review by searching six databases for articles published between January 2000 and February 2020, in English, about health and social care professionals providing referral to or prescription of blue space activities with health-related outcomes. We developed themes of contextual factors by analysing the contexts of BPPs. We used these contextual factors to develop programme theories describing the mechanisms of BPP implementation. Our study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020170660).
Results: Fifteen studies with adequate to strong quality were included from 6,736 records. Service users had improvements on their physical, mental, social health, and environmental knowledge after participating in BPPs referred to or prescribed by health and social care professionals. Patient-related contextual factors were referral information, free equipment and transportation, social support, blue space environments, and skills of service providers. Intervention-related contextual factors were communication, multi-stakeholder collaboration, financing, and adequate service providers. Programme theories on patient enrolment, engagement, adherence, communication protocols, and long-term programme sustainability described the mechanisms of BPP implementation.
Conclusion: BPPs could support health and social care services if contextual factors influencing patients and intervention delivery are considered for implementation. Our findings have implications in planning, development, and implementation of similar nature-based social prescribing programmes in health and social care settings.
Keywords: sustainable healthcare, social prescribing, blue spaces, bluespace prescriptions
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