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Evaluating complex, collaborative programmes: The Partnership Project as a case study

journal contribution
posted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by J Pirkis, H Herrman, I Schweitzer, Alison YungAlison Yung, M Grigg, P Burgess
Objective: In Australia, mental health services are delivered by a complex web of public- and private-sector providers. There is a growing recognition that linkages between these groups are not optimal, and a concern that this may lead to poor outcomes. This paper illustrates a conceptual framework for developing, implementing and evaluating programmes concerned with linkages. Method: Drawing on theoretical and practical literature, this paper identifies different levels of integration, issues in evaluating programmes to address poor linkages, and features of useful evaluations. Within this context, it describes the method by which the Public and Private Partnerships in Mental Health Project (Partnership Project) is being evaluated. Conducted by St Vincent's Mental Health Service and The Melbourne Clinic, this is one of several Demonstration Projects in Integrated Mental Health Care funded under the National Mental Health Strategy. Results: Collaboration is hard to conceptualize and collaborative programmes usually have many players and components, and tend to operate within already-complex systems. This creates difficulties for evaluation, in terms of what to measure, how to measure it, and how to interpret findings. In spite of these difficulties, the illustrative example demonstrates a model for evaluating collaborative programmes that is currently working well because it is strongly conceptualized, descriptive, comparative, constructively sceptical, positioned from the bottom up, and collaborative. Conclusions: This model, or aspects of it, could be extended to the evaluation of other mental health programmes and services that have collaborative elements.



Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry






639 - 646



Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal