Cross-sector collaboration is needed to address root causes of persistent public health challenges. We conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies describing theories, models, frameworks and principles for cross-sector collaboration and synthesized collaboration constructs into the Consolidated Framework for Collaboration Research (CFCR). Ninety-five articles were included in the review. Constructs were abstracted from articles and grouped into seven domains within the framework: community context; group composition; structure and internal processes; group dynamics; social capital; activities that influence or take place within the collaboration; activities that influence or take place within the broader community; and activities that influence or take place both in the collaboration and in the community. Community engagement strategies employed by collaborations are discussed, as well as recommendations for using systems science methods for testing specific mechanisms of how constructs identified in the review influence one another. Researchers, funders, and collaboration members can use the consolidated framework to articulate components of collaboration and test mechanisms explaining how collaborations function. By working from a consolidated framework of collaboration terms and using systems science methods, researchers can advance evidence for the efficacy of cross-sector collaborations.
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