The population health role of academic health centres: a multiple-case exploratory study in Australia and England

Edelman, Alexandra, Taylor, Judy, Ovseiko, Pavel V., Larkins, Sarah, and Topp, Stephanie M. (2022) The population health role of academic health centres: a multiple-case exploratory study in Australia and England. Health Policy, 126. pp. 1051-1061.

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Background: Academic health centres (AHCs) are organisations that aim to mobilise knowledge into practice by improving the responsiveness of health systems to emerging evidence. This study aims to explore the population health role of AHCs in Australia and England, where AHCs represent novel organisational forms.

Methods: A multiple-case study design using qualitative methods was used to explore population health goals and activities in four discrete AHCs in both countries during 2017 and 2018. Data from 85 interviews with AHC leaders, clinicians and researchers, direct observation, and documentation were analysed within and across the cases.

Results: Comparison across cases produced four cross-case themes: health care rather than population health; incremental rather than major health system change; different conceptions of “translation” and “innovation”; and unclear pathways to impact. The ability of the AHCs to define and enact a population health role was hindered during the study period by gaps in knowledge mobilisation strategies at a health system and policy level, the biomedical orientation of government designation schemes for AHCs in Australia and England, and competing expectations of the sovereign partner organisations in AHCs against a backdrop of limited operational resources.

Discussion: The study identifies several institutional elements that are likely to be needed for AHCs in Australia and England to deliver on both internal and external expectations of their population health role.

Item ID: 77224
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-6054
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Funders: Townsville Hospital and Health Service Private Practice Research and Education Trust Fund
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2023 23:02
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420305 Health and community services @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420602 Health equity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200412 Preventive medicine @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200205 Health policy evaluation @ 50%
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