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We regularly evaluate the impact of our work, engaging closely with external research partners to explore the health, social and economic benefits of Shared Reading.

Our partners have carried out extensive research into the impact of Shared Reading for those living with mental health issues, dementia or chronic pain. 

See below for a full list of published reports and research:

New research provides evidence that Shared Reading delivers positive change for individuals in prisons and probation services

The Reader delivers Shared Reading groups in 31 criminal justice settings (2022), including prisons and approved premises in probation services. In October 2022 the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service published an independent evaluation of our Shared Reading work in PIPES (Psychologically Informed Planned Environments) carried out by Professor Alison Liebling and her team at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge.

Shared Reading groups are offered weekly in all prison PIPEs and aim to provide opportunities for PIPE participants to engage socially, communicate more effectively, and make meaningful sense of themselves and others.  

Ready and Waiting: What the voluntary sector can do for social prescribing in South Liverpool

Social prescribing is a key component of the NHS Long Term Plan. It aims to help people to have greater control over their own health and wellbeing by connecting them to social activities in their communities, such as Shared Reading, volunteering, gardening and many others, that deliver measurable health outcomes. In the Liverpool City Region, VCSEs (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises) play a vital role in delivering these activities.

In 2019, The Reader – working alongside partners LCVS, Capacity and PSS – led a collaborative project that brought VCSEs, local Primary Care Networks and communities in South Liverpool together to explore and test the barriers preventing patients from making the most of the VCSE social prescribing support and services already on offer in South Liverpool. 

The insights and information gathered throughout the 12-month project are captured in this report which was published in autumn 2020.


Stronger Foundations for the Future: Growing Shared Reading with support from the second half fund.

In 2017, The Reader embarked on a 2-year collaborative project to bring the health and social benefits of Shared Reading to more than 2,000 people in communities across the North West. The Shared Reading North West project was supported by innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Crucial through The Second Half Fund. This report reflects on our progress in evidencing the impact of community-delivered Shared Reading throughout the lifetime of the project.


An Investigation into the Therapeutic Benefits of Reading in Relation to Depression and Wellbeing 

This research partnership between The Centre for Research Into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS) at The University of Liverpool, Liverpool Primary Care Trust and The Reader looked at two Shared Reading groups over a 12-month period. The participants had all been diagnosed with depression and the clinical data indicated that there were statistically significant improvements in their mental health during the period.


Read to Care: An Investigation into Quality of Life Benefits of Shared Reading Groups for People Living with Dementia

Includes 11 case studies alongside personal feedback from group leaders on their own key moments and findings from their reading in care homes, this provides an inspiring introduction to reading with older people, whatever their situation.


An Evaluation of a pilot study of a literature-based intervention with women in prison 

This provides an insight into what women in prison can get out of shared reading, with quotes included from the perspective not only of the group members, but also the prison officers and the group leader at the time.


Cultural Value: Assessing the intrinsic value of The Reader’s Shared Reading Scheme 

This short report draws out what it describes as the five intrinsic elements of the Shared Reading experience: Liveness, Creative Inarticulacy, The Emotional, The Personal, and The Group. There are also further examples included of group members responding to what they are reading, and of what it is that impacts them.


A Comparative Study of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Shared Reading for Chronic Pain – 2016 

This report provides moving analyses of what shared reading can do for people when their lives have been dramatically altered due to illness, loss and depression. It also explores in further detail the idea that shared reading might be therapeutic without being a therapy.


What Literature Can Do (An investigation into the effectiveness of Shared Reading as a whole population health intervention)

This report is particularly useful for the range of settings and communities that Shared Reading is shown to be able to reach; from young children in a school to older people living with dementia, as well as groups of people recovering from addictions, or who are living with severe and enduring mental illness.