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Partnership and other forms of public participation in decision-making have become central to policy-making. Simultaneously, there is a growing commitment to evidence-based policy and a requirement to demonstrate value for money for the time and resources invested in partnerships. This paper presents a conceptual model describing the benefits of working in partnership and suggests that these are valuable assets in enabling organizations to take action to reduce inequalities in health. The model is derived from case studies of two health action zones in Northern Ireland. In the model, connections, learning and action are identified as key components on the pathway from partnership formation to impact. Based on 'Realistic Evaluation', the model reflects the importance of partnership as a programme that which may be used for different purposes and in various contexts. The interrelationship between purpose and context, and how the mechanism is implemented, will determine the degree of effectiveness.

Original publication




Journal article


Critical Public Health

Publication Date





217 - 228