Evaluation of the Links Worker Programme in ‘Deep End’ General Practices in Glasgow

Issued: Thu, 13 Nov 2014 12:21:00 GMT

Dr Nai Rui Chng The Links Worker Programme is a Scottish Government funded programme which aims to explore how the primary care team can support people to live well in their community. It is being delivered as a partnership between the Health and Social Care Alliance (The ALLIANCE) and General Practitioners at the Deep End (The Deep End), and delivery partners include SAMH and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Tackling health inequalities has been a significant and complex problem in Scotland for over 50 years and has been a Government priority since 2007.  General Practitioners (GPs) at the Deep End is a collaboration of general practices serving the 100 most deprived populations in Scotland, based on the proportion of patients on the practice list with postcodes in the most deprived 15% of Scottish datazones; 86 of these 100 practices are in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In an attempt to help tackle some of the social determinants of health problems such as poor access to services and lack of support at community level the Deep End GPs proposed what they called a ‘social prescribing’ model in which they were able to work with local community organisations and other providers who would better help support people with complex health and social care problems – to avoid the medicalisation of what are fundamentally societal problems. They proposed that ‘Links Workers’ based in general practice would be able to help build links between local community organisations and people registered with general practices.  

The aims of the evaluation of this complex programme are:    

  1. To define the programme theory of change, the core components of the Links Worker Programme being delivered in intervention practices and key differences between intervention and control practices, and the contexts of delivery. 
  2. To describe and assess the implementation process and the implications for effectiveness. 
  3. To assess the effectiveness of the Links Worker Programme in intervention practices in achieving the intended outcomes at patient, practice and community levels, compared with non-intervention practices.  
  4. To draw conclusions about the extent to which the programme has worked as intended, and to identify lessons about sustainability and transferability of the programme

The research design includes the elucidation of the theories of change of the programme together with a quasi-experimental evaluation with embedded, theory-led, process evaluation. It will use mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to assess the impact of the Links Worker Programme on a range of short, medium and longer term outcomes at patient, practice and community levels; and determine the robustness, feasibility and acceptability of the programme’s theories of change.

The evaluation team comprises:

Professor Sally Wyke (Co-PI)

Professor Stewart Mercer (Co-PI)

Dr Bridie Fitzpatrick (Co-I)

Dr Alex McConnachie (Co-I)

Dr Mhairi Mackenzie (Co-I)

Dr Catherine O’Donnell (Co-I)

Dr Nai Rui Chng (Qualitative research associate)


**Dr Nai Rui Chng is a research associate in the 'Evaluation of the Links Worker Programme in ‘Deep End’ general practices in Glasgow' project. He is a political scientist whose research to date has been on the regulatory and contentious politics of public goods.  He has worked on the governance of water supply, environmental resources, and public health (disease intervention) in high, middle, and low-income settings. These include the UK, Singapore, China, Philippines and Indonesia 


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