Forming partnerships is a prominent strategy used to promote integrated service delivery across health and social service systems. Evidence about the collaboration process upon which partnerships evolve has rarely been addressed in an integrated-care setting. This study explores the longitudinal relationship of the collaboration process and the influence on the final perceived success of a partnership in such a setting. The collaboration process through which partnerships evolve is based on a conceptual framework which identifies five themes: shared ambition, interests and mutual gains, relationship dynamics, organisational dynamics and process management.
Fifty-nine out of 69 partnerships from a national programme in the Netherlands participated in this survey study. At baseline, 338 steering committee members responded, and they returned 320 questionnaires at follow-up. Multiple-regression-analyses were conducted to explore the relationship between the baseline as well as the change in the collaboration process and the final success of the partnerships.
Mutual gains and process management were the most significant baseline predictors for the final success of the partnership. A positive change in the relationship dynamics had a significant effect on the final success of a partnership.
Insight into the collaboration process of integrated primary care partnerships offers a potentially powerful way of predicting their success. Our findings underscore the importance of monitoring the collaboration process during the development of the partnerships in order to achieve their full collaborative advantage.