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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2019 Mar/Apr;25(2):147-155. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000823.

Perceived Benefits of Collaboration Between Local Health Departments and Schools and Programs of Public Health: A Mixed-Methods Study.

Author information

1
American Academy of Family Physicians, Leawood, Kansas (Dr Kovach); MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice (Drs Welter), and Coordinating Center for Public Health Practice, Office of the Dean, and Community Health Sciences (Dr Torres), University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health (Drs Welter, Seweryn, and Torres), Chicago, Illinois.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Collaboration between local health departments (LHDs) and schools and programs of public health (SPPH) may be a way to improve practice, education, and research. However, little is known about why LHDs and SPPH collaborate. This mixed-methods study addressed this issue by exploring what LHDs and SPPH perceive to be beneficial about their collaboration.

METHODS:

A mixed-methods study using quantitative and qualitative data was conducted. A survey of 2000 LHDs that completed the 2013 National Profile of LHDs measured how important and effective LHDs perceived 30 indicators of the 10 essential public health services to be for collaboration with SPPH. Focus groups were held with LHD officials and the faculty from SPPH to further explore their perceptions of the mutual benefits of their collaboration.

RESULTS:

This study showed that LHD officials and the faculty from SPPH valued their collaborative work because it can improve education and training, support public health accreditation, enhance LHD credibility, enhance LHD technological capabilities, and improve research and evidence-based practice. Benefits increased with an increase in the degree of collaboration. This also showed that LHD officials would like to collaborate more closely with SPPH.

CONCLUSION:

Collaboration between LHDs and SPPH is mutually beneficial, and close collaboration can help transform public health practice, education, and research. In light of this, more attention should be paid to developing goals and objectives for a collaborative agenda. Attention should be paid not only to the immediate needs of the organizations and individuals involved but also to their long-term goals and underlying desires. Funding opportunities to support the development of partnerships between LHDs and SPPH are needed to provide tangible tasks and opportunities for taking a more long-term and strategic view for collaborative relationships.

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