To read this content please select one of the options below:

Case definition for health and social care services integrated initiatives

Siu Mee Cheng (Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Cristina Catallo (Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Article publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 8 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to develop a case definition of integrated health and social services initiatives that serve older adults, and will provide characteristics to aid in the identification of such initiatives. The case definition is intended to ease the identification of integrated health and social care initiatives.


A limited search was undertaken of both scientific and gray literature that documented and/or examined integrated health and social services initiatives. In addition, literature on well-documented and generally accepted integrated healthcare and social services models that reflect collaborations from healthcare and social services organizations that support older adults was also used to develop the case definition.


The case definition is as follows: healthcare organizations from across the continuum of care working together with social services organizations, so that services are complementary and coordinated in a seamless and unified system, with care continuity for the patient/client in order to achieve desired health outcomes within a holistic perspective; the initiatives comprise at least one healthcare organization and one social care organization; and these initiatives possess 18 characteristics, grouped under 9 themes: patient care approach; program goals; measurement; service and care quality; accountability and responsibility; information sharing; culture; leadership; and staff and professional interaction.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this study is that the characteristics are based on a limited literature search. The quality of some of the literature both gray and published was not definitive: information on how they undertook the literature search was not provided; exclusion and inclusion criteria were not included; and there was insufficient detail on the design of the studies included. Furthermore, the literature reviews are based on integrated initiatives that target both seniors and non-senior’s based services. The cross-section of initiatives studied is also different in scale and type, and these differences were not explored.

Practical implications

The case definition is a useful tool in aiding to further the understanding of integrated health and social care initiatives. The number of definitions that exist for integrated health and social care initiatives can make it confusing to clearly understand this field and topic. The characteristics identified can assist in providing greater clarity and understanding on health and social care integration.


This study provides greater coherence in the literature on health and social care integration. It aids in better framing the phenomenon of healthcare and social services integration, thereby enhancing understanding. Finally, the study provides a very useful and concrete list of identifying characteristics, to aid in identifying integrated health and social care initiatives that serve older adults.



Cheng, S.M. and Catallo, C. (2019), "Case definition for health and social care services integrated initiatives", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 264-275.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles