Partnerships in Public Health: Lessons From Knowledge Translation and Program Planning


  • Shannon Sibbald
  • Anita Kothari
  • Debbie Rudman
  • Maureen Dobbins
  • Michael Rouse
  • Nancy Edwards
  • Dana Gore


The purpose of this study was to better understand how partnerships are initiated, maintained, and sustained in public health practice. A qualitative design was employed to conduct individual interviews and focus groups. The participants included practitioners from 6 purposively selected public health units in the Canadian province of Ontario that developed partnerships in program planning. It was found that partnerships play an essential role in program planning but that minimal information is available regarding the partnership process. Most partnerships are formed on an ad hoc basis, with little formalization. Public health professionals rely on their experiential knowledge when seeking out and working with partners. These findings can serve to inform future public health planning and strengthen the formation and maintenance of partnerships in public health and other sectors. Understanding how partnerships are initiated, maintained, and sustained is an important first step in supporting the use of research to advance collaborative public health efforts.