Doctors are slammed with non-medical cases. Some say social prescribing could ease the burden – CBC

Suggestion of non-medical treatment shifts focus from, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ to ‘What matters to you?’

Apr 22, 2023

When a Toronto doctor sent out a tweet earlier this year of the prescription she’d just handed to a patient, she had no idea the impact it would have.

“Puppy of choice,” it said, “with walks twice daily and lots of love.” It was a real prescription, written on her prescription pad, handed to a patient experiencing feelings of loneliness.

Thousands of people liked it, shared it and left their own comments, many asking if they could be Dr. Iris Gorfinkel’s patient, too. In the end, it reached more than 700,000 people.

“I think the reason that it struck such a raw chord is because people saw themselves in it,” Gorfinkel said.

The family doctor, who’s been practising for more than 20 years, says she’s been doing some form of what’s now known as social prescribing since her earliest working days — suggesting non-medical treatments for patients who come to her with symptoms that suggest loneliness or isolation.

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