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BMC Health Serv Res. 2018 Jun 7;18(1):420. doi: 10.1186/s12913-018-3194-7.

Organizational factors influencing successful primary care and public health collaboration.

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School of Nursing, McMaster University, HSc Room 3N25, 1280 Maim Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S4K1, Canada.
Dalhousie University, Room G26, Forrest Bldg., PO Box 15000, 5869 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada.
UBC School of Nursing and Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, T201 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 2B5, Canada.
University of Victoria, HSD B220, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2, Canada.
School of Nursing, McMaster University, HSc Room 3N25, 1280 Maim Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S4K1, Canada.



Public health and primary care are distinct sectors within western health care systems. Within each sector, work is carried out in the context of organizations, for example, public health units and primary care clinics. Building on a scoping literature review, our study aimed to identify the influencing factors within these organizations that affect the ability of these health care sectors to collaborate with one another in the Canadian context. Relationships between these factors were also explored.


We conducted an interpretive descriptive qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 74 key informants from three provinces, one each in western, central and eastern Canada, and others representing national organizations, government, or associations. The sample included policy makers, managers, and direct service providers in public health and primary care.


Seven major organizational influencing factors on collaboration were identified: 1) Clear Mandates, Vision, and Goals; 2) Strategic Coordination and Communication Mechanisms between Partners; 3) Formal Organizational Leaders as Collaborative Champions; 4) Collaborative Organizational Culture; 5) Optimal Use of Resources; 6) Optimal Use of Human Resources; and 7) Collaborative Approaches to Programs and Services Delivery.


While each influencing factor was distinct, the many interactions among these influences are indicative of the complex nature of public health and primary care collaboration. These results can be useful for those working to set up new or maintain existing collaborations with public health and primary care which may or may not include other organizations.


Collaboration; Health care sector; Organization; Partnership; Primary care; Public health

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