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Title: Assessing partnership working : evidence from the National Sexual Health Demonstration Project
Author: Pow, Janette S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 1575
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2010
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Partnership working has become something of a government imperative for tackling complex public health issues and is now more often the norm than the exception in health education and disease prevention work. The literature however, highlights that partnership working may be explained more by rhetorical appeal rather than any concrete evidence of effectiveness. There is little evidence from the literature examining the functioning, effectiveness or outcomes of partnership for health improvement. Partnership working was used within one such public health initiative (Healthy Respect) as a means of implementing and delivering a complex sexual health intervention programme to young people aged 10-18 years in Lothian. The main aim of Healthy Respect was to create an environment that would lead to long term improvements in the sexual health and wellbeing of young people through a multi-faceted approach which linked to education, information and services. This PhD study aimed to assess the extent and impact of partnership working in the Healthy Respect project; it aimed to examine the process and outcomes of partnership working for the organisations involved in the programme and to theoretically assess how this may impact on improving young people’s sexual health and wellbeing. The study used Healthy Respect’s logic model as a framework to examine the theory of how change occurred through partnership working in the project. A mixed method research design was used consisting of two postal surveys and in depth interviews with a sample of providers delivering sexual health education, information and services to young people in Lothian. Results suggest that Healthy Respect was only partially successful in working in partnership with some of the organisations involved in delivering sexual health education, information and services to young people. Partnerships were formed with approximately half of the providers. Those most engaged and working in partnership with Healthy Respect were from the NHS (including school nurses) and voluntary organisations which offered sexual health services to young people. Sexual health services also occupied a dominant position in the local networks of providers. Many providers linked with these services including secondary schools which offered Sexual Health and Relationship Education (SHARE). Other organisations most notably those from the Local Authority organisations were less willing to work in partnership with Healthy Respect. Many of the barriers (identified through the qualitative interviews with providers) to working in partnership with Healthy Respect came mostly from the Local Authority organisations and offered an explanation as to why partnerships with these organisations didn’t develop as planned. Results did suggest that where partnership work was taking place, this impacted on an organisations ability to deliver sexual health information, education and services to young people. However, partnerships with Healthy Respect were only formed with approximately 46% of the providers targeted, therefore not all organisations and subsequently young people would have benefitted from the Healthy Respect programme. The Healthy Respect programme was heavily reliant on partnership working to deliver the complex intervention. Yet results suggest that they were only partially effective in working in partnership with the organisations involved which may have led to them having little impact on the sexual health and wellbeing of young people (especially the most vulnerable). Partnerships take a long time to build and require a great deal of time and resources to be invested in them to work. However, the results of the study leave us with the fundamental question of whether all this time and effort should be applied to partnership working and interventions of this type for what could be very little impact on young people’s sexual health? This study has contributed to knowledge in the area of partnership working for health improvement. It defined what partnership was using a range of methods which moved beyond supportive attitudes and was able to examine and measure both the process and outcomes of partnership work in this project, something which few studies have been able to achieve.
Supervisor: Elliott, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RG Gynecology and obstetrics