Measuring partnership synergy and functioning: Multi-stakeholder collaboration in primary health care
journal contributionposted on 02.07.2021, 05:15 by E Loban, C Scott, Virginia Lewis, J Haggerty
In primary health care, multi-stakeholder partnerships between clinicians, policy makers, academic representatives and other stakeholders to improve service delivery are becoming more common. Literature on processes and approaches that enhance partnership effectiveness is growing. However, evidence on the performance of the measures of partnership functioning and the achievement of desired outcomes is still limited, due to the field’s definitional ambiguity and the challenges inherent in measuring complex and evolving collaborative processes. Reliable measures are needed for external or self-assessment of partnership functioning, as intermediate steps in the achievement of desired outcomes. We adapted the Partnership Self-Assessment Tool (PSAT) and distributed it to multiple stakeholders within five partnerships in Canada and Australia. The instrument contained a number of partnership functioning sub-scales. New sub-scales were developed for the domains of communication and external environment. Partnership synergy was assessed using modified Partnership Synergy Processes and Partnership Synergy Outcomes sub-scales, and a combined Partnership Synergy scale. Ranking by partnership scores was compared with independent ranks based on a qualitative evaluation of the partnerships’ development. 55 (90%) questionnaires were returned. Our results indicate that the instrument was capable of discriminating between different levels of dimensions of partnership functioning and partnership synergy even in a limited sample. The sub-scales were sufficiently reliable to have the capacity to discriminate between individuals, and between partnerships. There was negligible difference in the correlations between different partnership functioning dimensions and Partnership Synergy sub-scales. The Communication and External Environment sub-scales did not perform well metrically. The adapted partnership assessment tool is suitable for assessing the achievement of partnership synergy and specific indicators of partnership functioning. Further development of Communication and External Environment sub-scales is warranted. The instrument could be applied to assess internal partnership performance on key indicators across settings, in order to determine if the collaborative process is working well.