SIIReN - System Integration & Innovation Research Network

Primary Health Care System


Formalization of Inter-organizational Partnerships in Primary Mental Health Care: Impact on Partnership Quality & Interprofessional Collaboration

  • Pauzé, E., PhD(c), University of Toronto.
  • Barnsley, J., PhD, Associate Professor, University of Toronto. Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
  • Goering, P., RN, PhD, Professor, University of Toronto. Affiliate Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental health.
  • Reeves, S., PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. Scientist, Wilson Centre for Research in Education, University of Toronto.



Community partnerships and inter-professional team-based care are two strategies used to enhance services provided to patients. However, the impact of formal organizational partnerships on how staff work together across organizational boundaries is unexplored.


Phase 1 described the current partnerships among Ontario Family Health Teams (FHTs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and their Mental Health and/or Addictions (MHA) organization partners. Phase 2 determined if formalized organizational partnerships were associated with increased partnership quality and levels of interprofessional collaboration (IPC). Phase 3 explored the experiences of staff working across organizations.


The study was completed within the context of services provided to adults with complex mental health and /or addiction needs. The research questions, study design and methods were informed by the conceptual framework. Using a 3-phased, concurrent quantitative-qualitative mixed methods design, three electronic surveys and 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted. Participants included staff (administrators and service providers) from FHTs, CHCs and their MHA organization partners. Measurement tools included the Partnership Self-Assessment Tool (Weiss et al., 2002) and the Collaborative Practice Questionnaire (Way et al., 2001).

Preliminary Results:

70% of FHTs and CHCs have at least one MHA partnership (most have between 1 and3). Most partnerships were informal and were formed between 2004-2008. Formalized partnerships were more likely to be associated with enhanced partnership quality than were informal structures, but were not associated with higher levels of inter-organizational IPC among service providers.


Formalizing partnerships may be associated with benefits at the partnership level, but not necessarily at the level of service provision.


For further information and/or a copy of the full report, please contact:
Enette Pauzé

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