Insights into Trust and Value in Collaborative Health Networks

With new funding and increased emphasis, collaborative community networks are targeting complex health issues such as chronic disease management and healthy lifestyle. But how effective are these networks? A recent study published in Health Affairs by Rachel Hogg Graham, at the UK College of Health Sciences, and Danielle Varda at the University of Colorado.

Hogg Graham and Varda analyzed the characteristics of 260 cross-sector community health networks from 2008 to 2015, with data from PARTNER—the Program to Analyze, Record and Track Networks to Enhance Relationships—a tool developed by Varda.

Hogg Graham said, “The PARTNER tool asks some really interesting questions on trust and value and resources contributed. Trust and value are incredibly important to these networks, as well as how you perceive those partners. Partners working across sectors need to develop a collaborative process in which each partner sees the benefit of participation, thereby increasing motivation to stay engaged and make investments to support network goals.”

The data showed that nonprofit organizations were more prevalent than private firms or government agencies in these networks, but nonprofit organizations were not rated as highly as other sectors on value. Traditional types of partners in community health networks such as hospitals, community health centers, and public health agencies were the most trusted and valued by their fellow network members. However, nontraditional partners, such as private employers or universities, reported contributing relatively high numbers of resources to their networks.