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Fostering change within organizational participants of multisectoral health care alliances

Hearld, Larry R.; Alexander, Jeffrey A.; Mittler, Jessica N.

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31822aa443
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Background: A touted advantage of multisectoral health care alliances is their ability to coordinate diverse constituencies and pursue community health goals in ways that allow them to make greater progress than each constituency could independently. However, participating organizations may have goals that do not entirely overlap or necessarily align with the alliance’s goals, which can weaken or undermine an alliance’s efforts. Fostering changes within participating organizations in ways that are consistent with the alliance’s goals (i.e., alliance-oriented change) may be one mechanism by which alliances can coordinate diverse activities and improve care in their local communities.

Purpose: We examined whether alliance-oriented change within participating organizations is associated with alliance decision-making and conflict management style, level of participation, perceptions of alliance participation benefits and costs, and awareness of alliance activities within participating organizations.

Methodology: The study used two rounds of survey data collected from organizational participants of 14 alliances participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality program.

Findings: Alliance participants generally reported low levels of alliance-oriented change within their organizations as a result of the alliance and its activities. However, participants reporting higher levels of internal change in response to alliance activities had more positive perceptions of alliance decision-making style, higher levels of participation in alliance activities, more positive perceptions of alliance participation benefits relative to costs, and greater awareness of alliance activities across multiple levels of their respective organizations.

Practice Implications: Despite relatively low levels of alliance-oriented change within participating organizations, alliances may still have the means to align the goal orientations of a diverse membership and foster change that may extend the reach of the alliance in the community.

Larry R. Hearld, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham. E-mail: lhearld@uab.edu.

Jeffrey A. Alexander, PhD, is Richard Carl Jelinek Professor of Health Management and Policy, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Jessica N. Mittler, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Administration, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

This research was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the evaluation of its Aligning Forces for Quality initiative.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved