Establishing the SouthWestern Academic Health Network (SWAHN): A Survey Exploring the Needs of Academic and Community Networks in SouthWestern Ontario
With the evolving fields of health research, health professional education and advanced clinical care comes a need to bring researchers, educators and health care providers together to enhance communication, knowledge-sharing and interdisciplinary collaboration. There is also a need for active collaboration between academic institutions and community organizations to improve health care delivery and health outcomes in the community setting. In Canada, an Academic Health Sciences Network model has been proposed to achieve such activities. The SouthWestern Academic Health Network (SWAHN) has been established among three universities, three community colleges, community hospitals, community-based organizations and health care providers and two Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) in Southwestern Ontario. A survey was conducted to understand the characteristics, activities, existing partnerships, short- and long-term goals of the academic and community health networks in SouthWestern Ontario to inform the development of SWAHN moving forward. A total of 114 health networks were identified from the two participating LHINs, 103 community health networks and 11 academic health networks. A mailed survey was sent to all networks and responses were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The short- and long-term goals of these networks were categorized into five main themes: Public Health, Education, Research, System Delivery and Special Populations. Overall, this study helped to elicit important information from the academic and community based networks, which will inform the future work of SWAHN. This research has also demonstrated the significance of collecting information from both academic and community partners during the formation of other interdisciplinary health networks.
KeywordsSouthWestern Academic Health Network Academic Health Sciences Network Community Academia Interdisciplinary Survey
Conflicts of interest
Ethical approval was successfully obtained from The University of Western Ontario Research Ethics Board (Study No. 104828). The authors obtained informed consent from all participants, who received and completed a consent form before their participation in the study.
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