Health services and population health innovations advance when knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) occurs among researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and consumers using high-quality evidence. However, few KTE models have been evaluated in practice. Communities of practice (CoP) – voluntary, self-organizing, and focused groups of individuals and organizations – may provide one option. This paper outlines an approach to lay the foundation for a CoP within the area of Web-assisted tobacco interventions (WATI). The objectives of the study were to provide a data-driven foundation to inform decisions about organizing a CoP within the geographically diverse, multi-disciplinary WATI group using evaluation and social network methodologies.
A single-group design was employed using a survey of expectations, knowledge, and interpersonal WATI-related relationships administered prior to a meeting of the WATI group followed by a 3-week post-meeting Web survey to assess short-term impact on learning and networking outcomes.
Twenty-three of 27 WATI attendees (85%) from diverse disciplinary and practice backgrounds completed the baseline survey, with 21 (91%) of those participants completing the three-week follow-up. Participants had modest expectations of the meeting at baseline. A social network map produced from the data illustrated a centralized, yet sparse network comprising of interdisciplinary teams with little trans-sectoral collaboration. Three-week follow-up survey results showed that participants had made new network connections and had actively engaged in KTE activities with WATI members outside their original network.
Data illustrating both the shape and size of the WATI network as well as member's interests and commitment to KTE, when shared and used to frame action steps, can positively influence the motivation to collaborate and create communities of practice. Guiding KTE planning through blending data and theory can create more informed transdisciplinary and trans-sectoral collaboration environments.
Copyright © (2006) Norman, C.D. & Huerta, T. Abstract reprinted by AIR in compliance with the BioMed Central Open Access Charter at http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/policies/license-agreement.