Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness and challenges of regional public health partnerships by exploring the experiences of 2 multicounty LHDs in Nebraska.
Settings: The selection of the 2 local health department (LHD) sites was on the basis of the history of prior collaborative partnership in the LHD jurisdiction. Both regional LHD jurisdictions cover a service area of 9 counties.
Design: A mixed method research design was used for this study. We first conducted an online survey to create an inventory of partnerships for each LHD site. Then, we collected quantitative data to measure the effectiveness of partnerships through a survey of community partners in both LHD sites. We also collected qualitative information through telephone interviews with community partners and LHD staff to examine the challenges for building an effective regional partnership.
Results: Regional public health partnerships are most effective in efficiency, but less effective in the areas of management and resource sufficiency. More effort is still needed to maximize the collaborative potential for the majority of partnerships in both regions. In particular, geographic distance and work demand were identified as the 2 major challenges by community partners. The community health planning partnership in the LHD site with prior history of collaboration was more effective than its counterpart without such history.
Conclusions: Policy makers should consider developing policies to assist multicounty LHDs with improving their management of regional partnerships and with providing sufficient resources to support their regional partnerships. If possible, the formation of regional community health planning partnership should follow the geographic boundaries where prior collaboration already existed.