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Using a Partnership Barometer to Evaluate Environmental Public Health Tracking Activities

Bekkedal, Marni Y.V. PhD; Malecki, Kristen M. PhD; Werner, Mark A. PhD; Anderson, Henry A. MD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: November-December 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 6 - p 592–595
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000338372.60866.7c
Communication and Collaboration

High-quality environmental health surveillance is challenged by a system in which environmental and health agencies often function with insufficient coordination to routinely address critical issues. The Environmental Public Health Tracking program is working to build a more cohesive system with the capacity for integrated data and information. This work requires a significant amount of effort dedicated to establishing strong partnerships between agencies. Such a task requires skills and activities that differ significantly from the more technical skills needed to physically link data and information from environmental and health resources. Although the work to link people is different from linking data, it is of primary importance because the development of strong partnerships almost invariably provides the necessary foundation for the future integration of data and expertise. As such, the development of partnerships between environmental and health agencies needs to be recognized as a priority product. One approach for moving partnerships into the fore is the creation of assessment tools, or “partnership barometers,” that objectively quantify the collaborative process for monitoring progress between and within partners over time. Such measurement would provide a realistic indicator of progress toward tangible products but more importantly emphasizes the importance of building sustainable relationships.

This article describes high-quality environmental health surveillance challenged by a system in which environmental and health agencies often function with insufficient coordination to routinely address critical issues.

Marni Y.V. Bekkedal, PhD, is Research Scientist, Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Kristen M. Malecki, PhD, is Epidemiologist, Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Mark A. Werner, PhD, is Research Scientist Supervisor, Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Henry A. Anderson, MD, is Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Corresponding Author: Marni Y.V. Bekkedal, PhD, Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, 1 W Wilson St, Room 150, Madison, WI 53702 (bekkemy@dhfs.state.wi.us).

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.