247517 Interdisciplinary collaboration in New York City's Active Design Guidelines: A case study in interagency dynamics

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jennifer So Godzeno, MPH, MSUP , Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: This organizational case study of the Active Design Guidelines (ADG) initiative describes how and why interagency alliances and resource sharing were realized among over a dozen agencies within a very large bureaucracy, the City of New York. Interdisciplinary collaborations that break professional silos are crucial to creating healthy, livable communities that promote physical activity and reduce obesity prevalence. Much research on built environment and health linkages recommends such collaborations, but few if any studies document the political and interpersonal processes that enable or inhibit interagency relationships. Methods: Representatives (n=11) of nine disparate NYC agencies (health, design, transportation, policy, management) were surveyed and interviewed about the extent of their agencies' involvements in ADG, and factors that encouraged resource sharing. Results: Preliminary data suggest that agency representatives are encouraged to collaborate on initiatives of mutual interest (i.e., promoting physical activity through sustainable building design and urban planning) by 1.) prior mayor-initiated interdisciplinary initiatives such as PlaNYC 2030, 2.) collaborative attitudes modeled by top agency leadership, 3.) incidental network relationships, and 4.) low initial contribution requirements. These factors allow innovative problem solvers to more easily reach out to their counterparts in agencies with synergistic goals, and more readily identify shared interests. Conclusion: Municipal agencies can support innovative, systems-oriented disease prevention strategies by promoting policies, management strategies, and networking opportunities that 1.) model collaboration from the top down, and 2.) enable professionals in disparate disciplines to engage in frequent incidental dialogue to facilitate larger-scale collaborations in the long term.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify key stakeholder agencies in built environment and policy arenas that serve as synergistic allies in promoting physical activity and pedestrian safety  Assess aspects of agency and municipal government policy and culture that encourage or inhibit interagency collaboration with public health professionals in health policy and promotion Differentiate between incidental and intentional interagency contact Describe the importance and long-range fiscal and strategic benefits of low barriers to initial collaboration/contact

Keywords: Collaboration, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 5 years academic and professional experience in research and interventions related to built environment and public health, with particular emphasis on physical activity and community planning.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.