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Public Health Rep. 2005 Jan-Feb;120(1):76-83.

Local public health system partnerships.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, Madison, WI 53792, USA.



Interorganizational collaboration aimed at community health improvement is an expectation of local public health systems. This study assessed the extent to which such collaboration occurred within one state (Wisconsin), described the characteristics of existing partnerships, and identified factors associated with partnership effectiveness.


In Stage 1, local health department (LHD) directors in Wisconsin were surveyed (93% response rate). In Stage 2, LHDs completed self-administered mailed surveys for each partnership identified in Stage 1 (85% response rate). Two-level hierarchical logit regression methods were used to model relationships between partnership and LHD variables and partnership outcomes. Data from 924 partnerships associated with 74 LHDs were included in the analysis.


Partnerships most frequently addressed tobacco prevention and control, maternal and child health, emergency planning, community assessment and planning, and immunizations. Partnering was most frequent with other government agencies, hospitals, medical practices or clinics, community-based organizations, and schools. Partnership effectiveness was predicted by having a budget, having more partners contributing financially, having a broader array of organizations involved, and having been in existence for a longer period of time. A government mandate to start the partnership was inversely related to successful outcomes. Characteristics of LHDs did not predict partnership effectiveness.


Financial support, having a broader array of partners, and allowing sufficient time for partnerships to succeed contribute to partnership effectiveness. Further study-using objective outcome measures-is needed to examine the effects of organizational and community characteristics on the effectiveness of local public health system partnerships.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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