University summer course: Green and Social Prescribing Programmes


Client: Universidad del País Vasco (UPV-EHU)

Location: Spain 

Year: 2023

Social determinants of health refer to the impact that living, working, and leisure conditions have on health. The importance of these social determinants of health and their enormous potential to improve population health has spurred interest in developing measures that incorporate this perspective. Thus, within the field of urban planning, there is an awareness of the importance of urban planning in population health and the need for this planning to incorporate a health perspective.

One of the strategies for incorporating this perspective on social determinants of health is what has been called social prescription, that is, the prescription by a family doctor in the consultation of an activity that takes place in the community.

In the case of the “city prescription,” the prescription is based on an activity that can take place in the city. In the case of the “green prescription,” these are activities carried out in parks or green areas in the city. These activities have led to the connection and collaboration between the health sector and other actors in the social or urban field.

The “city prescription,” in any of its versions (green prescription or social prescription), is a trend in Europe, especially used in mental health treatments. In fact, the abuse of psychotropic drugs is considered a public health problem that has surged during the pandemic but has been growing for decades. Consumption data of psychotropic drugs among the population over 65 years old is alarming in Spain, hence the importance of exploring possible alternatives to traditional medicine.

The “city prescription” is not just the concern of doctors. Several actors are involved in the “city prescription”: doctors, patients, activity organisers, and the city’s design, which facilitates the entire process. Despite the advantages and opportunities of these initiatives, challenges and difficulties are also encountered in each one.

The summer course aims to address the complexity of “city prescription” initiatives, involving all the actors, presenting examples of good practices, and defining strategies for their implementation.