This article reports the results of a review of the research evidence related to joint working in the field of adult health and social care services in the UK. It explores whether recent reforms to joint working have met the objectives set by policy-makers. The review followed an established methodology: electronic databases were searched using predetermined terms, abstracts were screened against inclusion criteria, studies that met the criteria were read in full and assessed for inclusion and data were extracted systematically. The findings of the review suggest that there is some indication that recent developments, in particular the drive to greater integration of services, may have positive benefits for organisations as well as for users and carers of services. However, the evidence consistently reports a lack of understanding about the aims and objectives of integration, suggesting that more work needs to be done if the full potential of the renewed policy agenda on integration is to be realised. Additionally, while the review acknowledges that greater emphasis has been placed on evaluating the outcome of joint working, studies largely report small-scale evaluations of local initiatives and few are comparative in design and therefore differences between 'usual care' and integrated care are not assessed. This makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of UK-based integrated health and social care services.
Keywords: adult social care; integration; joint working; literature review; outcomes.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.