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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Community Health Partnerships: A Stakeholder Accountability Approach

Published in JHHSA, Vol. 26 No. 1

Community health partnerships (CHPs) are promoted as effective
cooperative interorganizational relationships to improve community
health status while conserving resources. However, relatively little is
known about the effectiveness of these partnerships in achieving their
goals. Using concepts from a network effectiveness framework (Provan
and Milward, 2001) and a network accountability framework (Gamm,
1998), the authors propose that successful CHPs are those that are
effective in multiple levels (community, network, organization/partic-
pants) and/or accountability dimensions (political, commercial, clini-
cal/patient, and community). The combined frameworks serve to
identify a number of community health stakeholders and associated
interests that vary according to accountability dimensions to which
CHPs respond. Using survey data from over 400 participants in 25
Community Care Networks, the authors assess the usefulness of the
conceptual framework in evaluating CHP effectiveness.

The results suggest that CHP participants recognize three different
levels of analysis in their evaluation of network effectiveness:
community, network, and organization/participant. Furthermore, the
results show that respondents distinguish between two different organi-
zation/participant benefits: enabling and client services. While respon-
dents rated the intangible resources or enabling benefits (e.g., legiti-
macy and learning) of partnership participation most highly, client services resulting from CHP participation (e.g., client services and
referrals) received the lowest ratings. Community benefit (e.g., impro-
ving community health status) and network effectiveness (e.g., ability
to provide efficient, high quality health and human services) received
ratings that fall between the enabling and client services. Given the
relatively good scores (above 60%) received by CHPs on all four
effectiveness dimensions considered here, it appears that the majority
of respondents find at least some evidence of network effectiveness
across all three levels of network effectiveness and all four dimensions
of accountability.

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