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Partnering Healthy@Work: an Australian university—government partnership facilitating policy-relevant research

06 May 2016

AbstractResearch funding is increasingly supporting collaborations between knowledge users and researchers. Partnering Healthy@Work (pH@W), an inaugural recipient of funding through Australia's Partnership for Better Health Grants scheme, was a 5-year partnership between the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian State Service (TSS). The partnerships purpose was to evaluate a comprehensive workplace health promotion programme (Healthy@Work) targeting 30 000 public sector employees; generating new knowledge and influencing workplace health promotion policy and decision-making. This mixed methods study evaluates the partnership between policy-makers and academics and identifies strategies that enabled pH@W to deliver key project outcomes. A pH@W document review was conducted, two partnership assessment tools completed and semi-structured interviews conducted with key policy-makers and academics. Analysis of the partnership assessment tools and interviews found that pH@W had reached a strong level of collaboration. Policy-relevant knowledge was generated about the health of TSS employees and their engagement with workplace health promotion. Knowledge exchange of a conceptual and instrumental nature occurred and was facilitated by the shared grant application, clear governance structures, joint planning, regular information exchange between researchers and policy-makers and research student placements in the TSS. Flexibility and acknowledgement of different priorities and perspectives of partner organizations were identified as critical factors for enabling effective partnership working and research relevance. Academic-policy-maker partnerships can be a powerful mechanism for improving policy relevance of research, but need to incorporate strategies that facilitate regular input from researchers and policy-makers in order to achieve this.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Promotion International