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Activating Partnership Assets to Produce Synergy in Primary Health Care: A Mixed Methods Study

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posted on 2021-09-20, 02:12 authored by Ekaterina Loban, Catherine Scott, Virginia LewisVirginia Lewis, Susan Law, Jeannie Haggerty
Partnerships are an important mechanism to tackle complex problems that extend beyond traditional organizational divides. Partnerships are widely endorsed, but there is a need to strengthen the evidence base relating to claims of their effectiveness. This article presents findings from a mixed methods study conducted with the aim of understanding partnership processes and how various partnership factors contribute to partnership effectiveness. The study involved five multi-stakeholder partnerships in Canada and Australia working towards improving accessibility to primary health care for vulnerable populations. Qualitative data were collected through the observa-tion of 14 partnership meetings and individual semi-structured interviews (n = 16) and informed the adaptation of an existing Partnership Self-Assessment Tool. The instrument was administered to five partnerships (n = 54). The results highlight partnership complexity and the dynamic and contingent nature of partnership processes. Synergistic action among multiple stakeholders was achieved through enabling processes at the interpersonal, operational and system levels. Synergy was associated with partnership leadership, administration and management, decision-making, the ability of partnerships to optimize the involvement of partners and the sufficiency of non-financial resources. The Partnership Synergy framework was useful in assessing the intermediate outcomes of ongoing partnerships when it was too early to assess the achievement of long-term intended outcomes.


This research would not have been possible without the support of the IMPACT program's funders. IMPACT-Improving Models Promoting Access-to-Care Transformation program was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (TTF-130729) Signature Initiative in Community-Based Primary Healthcare, the Fonds de recherche du Quebec-Sante and the Australian Primary Healthcare Research Institute, which was supported by a grant from the Australian Government Department of Health under the Primary Healthcare Research, Evaluation and Development Strategy. E. Loban would like to acknowledge funding of a doctoral stipend through the IMPACT research program (2015-2018). The funding bodies played no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, or writing of the manuscript.


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