What Works Wellbeing operated from 2014 to 2024. This website is a static repository of all assets captured at closure on 30 April. It will remain publicly accessible but will not be updated.  Read more
June 2017

Social relations and wellbeing

A scoping review of reviews to identify existing evidence for interventions, actions and policies focused on boosting social relations

In partnership with

We commissioned a scoping review of existing review-level evidence on what works to boost social relations, and its relationship to community wellbeing.

The review identified current knowledge of interventions, actions, and policies that have “boosting social relations” (or proxy measures) as an intended outcome, to highlight what is known and where there are gaps in the evidence base.


Relationships are included in the 10 key domains
of the UK’s national wellbeing framework.

Social relations are widely recognised by the scientific literature and governmental practices as an important determinant of individual and community wellbeing.

In terms of community wellbeing, social relations account for interactions and interpersonal relations taking place between individuals, and also connect groups, communities, and institutions to achieve more cohesive and healthier societies.

Our working Theory of Change suggests that social relations can be thought of an intermediate outcome or a component of community wellbeing.

Core concepts and definitions

Social relations

The concept of social relations underpins many psychological, sociological, and
anthropological theories such as social capital, sense of community, community of practice, community of interest and, more generally speaking, social relations is a key concept in human and social science. It is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of interactions, interconnections, and exchanges between human beings and the physical and social environment.

Umberson & Montez (2010) have identified three macro-categories of social relations that figure prominently in the scientific literature: Social integration, Quality of relationships, and Social networks.

Community wellbeing

We use the following working definition of community wellbeing as being about “strong networks of relationships and support
between people in a community, both in close relationships and friendships, and between
neighbours and acquaintances/”

Who is this for?

Researchers interested to use insights as basis for identifying priority areas for more in-depth systematic reviews focusing on community wellbeing and social relations.

We have identified research questions around specific interventions which can be addressed in a systematic evidence review.

Explore the resources below.


[gravityform id=1 title=true description=true ajax=true tabindex=49]

In this project

Full report - June 2017
Scoping review: social relations and community wellbeing
Read more
Blog - August 2017
Can we measure the wellbeing of a ‘community’?
Read more