The use of memoranda of understanding in fostering inter-agency collaboration: A qualitative study of health services agencies serving vulnerable populations in baltimore, usa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction: We examined whether mandated collaboration reflected in memoranda of understanding (MOUs) developed by health agencies to meet funder expectations is effective in fostering inter-agency collaboration. Methods: We conducted 22 semi-structured interviews from late 2010 to early 2012 in Baltimore, USA, with repre- sentatives of 17 HIV service agencies, three local health department units, and one agency that closed in 2008 (two interviews). Results: While there was no consensus, most respondents perceived MOUs negatively, mainly because the process of obtaining signed MOUs was time consuming; frontline staff was mostly unaware of MOUs, agencies did not necessarily work with agencies they signed MOUs with and MOUs were rarely evaluated after being signed. A few agencies reported that MOUs could keep agencies focused and set mutual expectations. The local health department acknowledged shortcomings in MOUs but emphasized that MOUs could help agencies plan for referring clients when their own capacity was full. Conclusions: Although many agencies acknowledged the importance of collaboration, most respondents found that MOUs lacked practical utility. Grant-makers should consult sub-grantees to develop alternative means of fostering collaboration that would be perceived as relevant by both parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Hiv
  • Mandated inter-organizational collaboration
  • Memoranda of understanding
  • Qualitative methods
  • United states
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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