The tool was developed to fill a gap in partnership evaluation. There was previously no way of measuring the benefits of partnerships, such as increased efficiencies and shared knowledge, or the costs, such as time spent maintaining relationships and translating findings.
RREC’s Dr Anne Grunseit said it was important for partnerships to be able to clearly articulate accountability for specific shared goals and outcomes, rather than simply measuring downstream outcomes.
“For example, we were looking at a partnership that was trying to drive down obesity. You can measure whether the initiative had an impact on obesity rates, but that probably won’t be observable for years. What we needed was a measure, if this way of working was achieving the aims of being in a partnership as a short-term impact,” she said.
The RREC identified existing partnership assessment tools and found there was considerable variation in the ways different partnerships were being measured across different levels of government and portfolios. Tools tended to measure the formation of the partnership only, were too long, or focused on partnerships with community-based organisations rather than large, complex partnerships.
Based on this literature search, the team then identified different domains of partnership that were developed into a new tool, the Domains of Partnership Survey (DPS), in collaboration with staff in ACT Health. The DPS enables users to evaluate partnership against five domains: leadership, governance, resource allocation, collaboration and engagement.
“These domains provided a framework for users to assess components of the partnership to use as preliminary evidence on how the partnership was going, as well as to identify ways to maintain and strengthen the partnership,” Dr Grunseit said.
The DPS was then tested on stakeholders from the ACT whole-of-government Healthy Weight Initiative, and was found to be consistent and reliable.
The study describing the development of the tool and the results of the baseline and follow-up surveys has recently been published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia and is now being used by the ACT Government and the Prevention Centre. It has also already travelled overseas to be used by Active British Columbia.