McMaster University Review of Primary Care
and Public Health Collaborations

In 2008, McMaster University conducted a literature review to gain an understanding of and derive lessons from examples of primary care and public health collaborations (Martin-Misener et al., 2009). A rigorous search resulted in a collection of 114 articles, published between 1988 and 2008, that described examples of such collaboration occurring across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe. After reviewing these examples, the authors drew a number of conclusions about why primary care and public health entities have engaged in collaboration, the types of activities typically carried out in such collaborations, and the major facilitators of and barriers to collaboration.

The authors note the wide variety of examples they collected. Differences among localities in organizational structure and community health needs have led primary care and public health to connect in different ways. Collaborative efforts have arisen from policy mandates; from a natural alignment of goals; and in response to specific, shared challenges. These collaborations also have engaged in a broad range of activities. Box 2-1 lists the major areas of activity appearing in the McMaster literature review.

The review also found that some collaborations were more successful than others. From the available literature, the authors derived a number of factors that tended to influence the success of collaborative efforts. Table 2-1 identifies some of the facilitators of and barriers to collaboration across different levels of the health care system.

Successful collaborations were found to result in improvements in health service delivery, funding and resource allocation, and population health outcomes. The authors recommend further research and evaluation of methods for collaboration between primary care and public health.

BOX 2-1
Areas of Activity in Primary Care and
Public Health Collaborations

•   Community activities

•   Professional education

•   Health services

•   Social marketing and communication

•   Information systems

•   Steering and advisory functions

•   Quality assurance and evaluation

•   Evidence-based practice

•   Prevention

•   Health promotion and education

•   Teamwork and management

•   Needs assessment and planning

SOURCE: Martin-Misener et al., 2009.



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