Select an Evidence Based Program

Section 2.8

Establishing Partnerships

Partnerships consist of two or more organizations that collaborate to achieve a common goal through effective use of expertise, personnel, and other resources. Partnerships among the healthcare, government, community, and academic sectors are often formed to facilitate the implementation of EBPs.

There are numerous benefits associated with the creation and utilization of partnerships. Several of these are listed below.

  • Maximizing the advantages of the pooled expertise, personnel, and other resources of several organizations.
  • Reducing the direct and indirect costs of implementing health programs.
  • Limiting the duplication of efforts and services.
  • Building trust, sharing, and collaboration among agencies and sectors.
  • Broadening the base of support, including stakeholders and funders.
  • Increasing credibility beyond the scope of any one individual organization.
  • Reaching broader, more diverse audiences.
  • Increasing the likelihood the program will be sustained.

To form a partnership, first clarify the purpose and goals of your organization. Once this is done, identify organizations that have purposes and goals similar to those of your organization. Consider if these organizations have expertise and resources that complement your organization. At this point, you are ready for one of the most difficult tasks of partnership formation: approaching other organizations to propose the partnership. Discussion regarding the possibility of a partnership may be accompanied by site visits and the exchange of literature about the potential partners. If leaders from the proposed partners agree on a partnership, then a partnership agreement that details the rights and responsibilities of each partner should be developed. Once the partnership agreement is in place, the next steps are to collectively identify common goals, select strategies for goal achievement, and assign roles and tasks to each partner.

Succesful partnerships

The specific characteristics of successful partnerships can vary in numerous ways. However, several characteristics that consistently produce superior results have been identified. Many of these are described below.

  • Suitable partners — The appropriate partners for a given partnership are those who can collectively carry out the purpose of the partnership. The partners often share similar missions and goals, while having expertise and resources that are complementary.
  • Partnership agreement — A formal partnership agreement, often in the form of a commitment letter or memorandum of understanding, should be generated to provide accountability in regards to roles and responsibilities.
  • Trust — Trust takes time to establish and is built when each partner is honest about its resources and expertise and follows through on its commitments.
  • Clear, mutual purpose and goals — The purpose for which the partnership was developed should be clearly articulated. Jointly determined goals, and strategies to achieve the goals, should be congruent with the missions of each partner and should foster the development of an action plan that describes the roles and responsibilities of each partner.
  • Communication — Partnerships benefit from designated communication methods in order to maintain communication and ensure each partner is kept updated on progress and challenges. Communication methods can include emails, meeting agendas and minutes, online discussion boards, social media, and annual reports.
  • Appropriate accountability and accolade — All partners share in the success or failure of a partnership. While each partner must own up to its designated tasks, finger-pointing or unfair blame for setbacks should be avoided. Likewise, it is good policy to acknowledge the contributions of each partner and celebrate collective accomplishments that are attributed to the partnership.

Community-based participatory approaches

Community-based participatory approaches involve many partners. In these approaches, each stakeholder (e.g., audience member, organization staff member, community official, volunteer) plays a role in needs assessment and program selection. Each stakeholder’s participation is welcomed and valued. There are a lot of benefits to participatory approaches, including those listed below.

  • Community needs, including those related to social and environmental conditions, are identified from a bottom-up or grassroots approach.
  • All stakeholders get an opportunity to express their opinions, even those who traditionally have not had voices.
  • All stakeholders have vested interests in the program.
  • The program has credibility throughout the entire community.
  • The likelihood of sustainability is high due to the wide base of support.
  • The skills learned by stakeholders will empower them to carry out additional programs in the future.
  • The ties and trust formed between stakeholders can benefit the community long after the program is over.

One of the easiest and most common community-based participatory approaches is for an organization interested in implementing a health program to form an advisory board or coalition comprised of representatives from each stakeholder segment. These individuals can brainstorm ideas, provide feedback, and carry out tasks.

Glossary of Terms

Toolkit Glossary

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Adaptation– Making changes to an evidence-based program in order to make it more suitable for a particular organization and/or audience.

Baseline – A starting point. In evidence-based programming, the term “baseline” is usually used in the context of data collection, where baseline data is data collected before a program is implemented.

Credentials – A testimony of qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party. Examples of credentials include academic diplomas, academic degrees (e.g., MSW, MPH, PhD), licenses (e.g., MD, RN, LCSW), certifications (e.g., CHES, CPR, first aid), and security clearances.

Evidence – Facts or testimony in support of a conclusion, statement, or belief. In some settings, individuals may refer to “levels of evidence” or “types of evidence.” These terms will have specific definitions unique to the setting in which they are used. When referring to evidence-based programs, the term “evidence” is generally used to describe the findings or results of program evaluation studies.

Evidence-based program – A program that has been thoroughly evaluated by researchers who determined it produces positive outcomes.

Fidelity – The extent to which a program is being implemented as its developers intended for it to be.

Implementation – Putting into action or carrying out a program.

Instrument – A measurement tool. Instruments can take many forms including biomedical equipment (e.g., glucometer, blood pressure monitor, weight scale), pencil and paper tests, questionnaires, and interviews. A thermometer is an instrument used to measure body temperature. Likewise, a survey is an instrument that can be used to measure anxiety.

Medicaid – A publically-funded health insurance program for individuals who have low incomes and fall into certain categories of eligibility.

Objectives – Specific, measurable steps that can be taken to achieve goals.

Peer review – When experts review a professional’s performance, research, or writings. Peer review is a way that qualified professionals self-regulate their professions. Performance, research, or writings that pass the peer review process have increased credibility or trustworthiness.

Program champion – An individual who advocates for a program.

Quality assurance- A collection of planned, systematic activities applied to ensure that the components of a program are being implemented well.

Secondary data – Previously collected data that is being used for a purpose other than that for which it was originally collected.

Theory of behavior change – An attempt to explain how and why people change their behaviors. Researchers typically generate theories of behavior change from research in the fields of psychology, education, health, and other social sciences. When developing evidence-based programs, researchers will select a theory or components from several theories to guide program development.

Audience – The individuals for whom you implement your program. Depending on your setting, these individuals may also be referred to as a target population, population of interest, or clientele.

Buy-in – Typically used in the business world, buy-in refers to a financial exchange. In the context of health programs, the buy-in of stakeholders (community members, organizational leaders, participants, etc.) is generally non-financial. It involves their acceptance of a concept, idea, or proposal.

Data – A collection of facts, such as measurements and statistics.

Evidence-based practice – When clinicians (e.g., doctors, nurses) base their healthcare treatment decisions on the findings of current research, their clinical expertise, and the values/preferences of their patients.

Evidence-informed practice or program – A practice or program that is guided by theories and preliminary research. While there is some indication that these practices and programs produce positive outcomes, the evidence is too weak to refer to them as evidence-based. These are sometimes referred to as “promising” or “emerging” practices and programs.

Goals – General, non-measurable intentions or outcomes.

Incentives for participation – Factors that motivate an individual to take part in a program. Organizations sometimes provide incentives to encourage participants to begin and/or remain enrolled in a program. Common incentives include gift cards and program t-shirts.

Intervention – Organized efforts to promote health and prevent disease. This term is used because the efforts intervene, or come between, an individual and a negative health outcome in an attempt to prevent or delay the negative outcome. “Intervention” and “program” are often used interchangeably.

Interventionist – An individual who implements or carries out the components of a program.

Lay leaders – Individuals who do not have formal healthcare credentials who are trained to lead evidence-based programs.

Medicare – A publically-funded health insurance program for adults over age 65 and individuals with certain disabilities or health conditions.

Partnership – A cooperative relationship between two or more organizations that collaborate to achieve a common goal through the effective use of knowledge, personnel, and other resources.

Primary data – Original or new data being collected for a specific research goal.

Protocols - Predefined procedural methods. Examples include detailed program implementation procedures, required equipment, required data collection instruments with detailed instructions for administration, and recommended safety precautions.

Readiness – The degree to which an organization is prepared or ready for something.

Stakeholder – Any individual or group that has a stake or interest in a program.

Translation – The process of taking a program originally implemented in a controlled, laboratory-like setting and making it suitable for implementation in the community.

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