Promoting a Culture of Health Through Cross-Sector Collaborations

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In this study, we explore the experiences of innovative nurses who have developed cross-sector collaborations toward promoting a culture of health, with the aim of identifying lessons that can inform similar efforts of other health care professionals. We used a mixed-methods approach based on data from both an online survey and telephone interviews. A majority of the participants had significant collaborations with health care providers and non–health care providers. Strong partners included mental health providers, specialists, and primary care providers on the health side, and for non–health partners, the strongest collaborations were with community leaders, research institutions, and local businesses. Themes that emerged for successful collaborations included having to be embedded in both the community and in institutions of power, ensuring that a shared vision and language with all partners are established, and leading with strength and tenacity. A focus on building a culture of health will grow as payment policy moves away from fee-for-service toward models that focus on incentivizing population health. Effective efforts to promote a culture of health require cross-sector collaborations that draw on long-term, trusting relationships among leaders. Health care practitioners can be important leaders and “bridgers” in collaborations, but they must possess or develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of “bilingual” facilitators, partners, and “relationship builders.”

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