SN  Vol.2 No.4 , October 2013
Factors That Influence Healthcare Professionals’ Online Interaction in a Virtual Community of Practice
Abstract: Online technologies have facilitated the development of Virtual Communities of Practice (virtual CoPs) to support health professionals collaborate online to share knowledge, improve performance and support the spread of innovation and best practices. Research, however,shows that many virtual CoPs do not achieve their expected potential because online interaction among healthcare professionals is generally low. Focusing on health visitors, who are UK qualified midwives or nurses who have undertaken additional qualifications as specialist public health workers in the community, the paper examines the factors that influence online interaction among health visitors collaborating to share knowledge and experience in a virtual CoP. The paper makes suggestions for how to improve online interaction among health professionals in virtual CoPs by increasing the size of membership in order to take advantage of both posting and viewing contributions, facilitating moderation to improve networking among geographically dispersed members groups and im-proving the topic relevance in order to stimulate contributions.
Cite this paper: Ikioda, F. , Kendall, S. , Brooks, F. , De Liddo, A. and Buckingham Shum, S. (2013) Factors That Influence Healthcare Professionals’ Online Interaction in a Virtual Community of Practice. Social Networking, 2, 174-184. doi: 10.4236/sn.2013.24017.

[1]   J. Gabbay, A. Le May, H. Jefferson, D. Webb, R. Love- lock, J. Powell and J. Lathlean, “A Case Study of Knowledge Management in Multiagency Consumer-Informed Communities of Practice: Implications for Evidence-Based Policy Development in Health and Social Services,” Health, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2003, pp. 283-310.

[2]   J. Lathlean and A. Le May, “Communities of Practice: An Opportunity for Interagency Working,” Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2002, pp. 394-398.

[3]   P. Gannon-Leary and E. Fontainha, “Communities of Practice and Virtual Learning Communities: Benefits, Barriers and Success Factors,” eLearning Papers, No. 5, 2007.

[4]   S. Jarvis-Selinger, A. Armstrong, S. Mehta, E. Campion and K. Black, “Orthopaedic Educators’ Electronic Community of Practice: Development of a Supportive Online Learning Environment for Academic Orthopedic Surgeons,” In: K. Ho, et al., Eds., Technology Enabled Knowledge Translation for eHealth, 2012, Springer, New York, pp. 117-131.

[5]   C. Urquhart, A. Yeoman and S. Sharp, “NeLH Communities of Practice Evaluation Report,” Prepared for NeLH team, NHS Authority, 2002.

[6]   R. K. Valaitis, N. Akhtar-Danesh, F. Brooks, S. Binks and D. Semogas, “Online Communities of Practice as a Communication Resource for Community Health Nurses Working with Homeless Persons,” Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 67, No. 6, 2011, pp. 1273-1284.

[7]   J. Sandars, “Online Communities of Practice for Health- care Professionals: When Hype Meets Reality,” Undated.

[8]   G. Singh, M. McPherson and J. Sandars, “Continuing Professional Development through Reflexive Networks: Disrupting Online Communities of Practice,” University of Stirling, Stirling, 2012.

[9]   M. Sharratt and A. Usoro, “Understanding Knowledge- Sharing in Online Communities of Practice,” Electronic Journal on Knowledge Management, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2003, pp. 187-196.

[10]   A. Ardichvili, V. Page and T. Wentling, “Motivation and Barriers to Participation in Virtual Knowledge-Sharing Communities of Practice,” Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2003, pp. 64-77.

[11]   L. Dubé, A. Bourhis and R. Jacob, “Towards a Typology of Virtual Communities of Practice,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2006, pp. 69-93.

[12]   E. Ferlie, T. Crilly, A. Jashapara and A. Peckham, “Knowledge Mobilisation in Healthcare: A Critical Review of Health Sector and Generic Management Literature,” Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 74, No. 8, 2012, pp. 1297-1304.

[13]   S. Cowley, K. Whittaker, A. Grigulis, M. Malone, S. Donetto, H. Wood, E. Morrow and J. Maben, “Why Health Visiting? A Review of the Literature about Key Health Visitor Interventions, Processes and Outcomes for Children and Families,” National Nursing Research Unit, King’s College London, 2013.

[14]   Department of Health, “A Health Visiting Career,” Lon- don, 2012.

[15]   A. M. Houston and S. Cowley, “An Empowerment Approach to Needs Assessment in Health Visiting Practice,” Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol. 11, No. 5, 2002, pp. 640-650.

[16]   A. De Liddo, B. S. S. McAndrew Patrick and R. Farrow, “The Open Education Evidence Hub: A Collective Intelligence Tool for Evidence Based Policy,” Joint OER12 and Open Course Ware Consortium Global 2012 Conference, Cambridge, 2012.

[17]   K. McCartney, D. Hooker, J. Cordeiro, H. N. Lauscher and K. Ho, “Practical Considerations in Building an Electronic Community of Practice for Health Care: Lessons from the Literature,” In: K. Ho, S. J. Selinger, H. N. Lauscher, J. Cordeiro and R. Scott, Eds., Technology Enabled Knowledge Translation for eHealth, Springer, New York, 2012, pp. 75-90.

[18]   K. Xie and A. C. Bradshaw, “Using Question Prompts to Support Ill-Structured Problem Solving in Online Peer Collaborations,” International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2008, pp. 148-165.

[19]   M. Fontaine, “Keeping Communities of Practice Afloat,” Knowledge Management Review, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2001, pp. 16-21.

[20]   L. C. Li, J. M. Grimshaw, C. Nielsen, M. Judd, P. C. Coyte and I. D. Graham, “Use of Communities of Practice in Business and Health Care Sectors: A Systematic Review,” Implementation Science, Vol. 4, No. 27, 2009, p. 16.

[21]   H. Tarmizi, G. J. de Vreede and I. Zigurs, “A Facilitators’ Perspective on Successful Virtual Communities of Practice,” Citeseer, 2007.

[22]   C. Errey, “Building Online Social Communities: Helping Your Members Cross the Observer/Participant Barrier,” Undated, pp. 1-7.

[23]   A. L. Blanchard and M. L. Markus, “The Experienced Sense of a Virtual Community: Characteristics and Processes,” ACM SIGMIS Database, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2004, pp. 64-79.

[24]   X. Wang and Y. Yu, “Classify Participants in Online Communities,” Social and Information Networks, Vol. 4, No 1, 2012, 13 p.

[25]   J. Nielsen, “Participation inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute,” Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, October 9, 2006.

[26]   K. F. Hew and N. Hara, “Knowledge Sharing in Online Environments: A Qualitative Case Study,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 58, No. 14, 2007, pp. 2310-2324.

[27]   A. P. Rovai, “Building Sense of Community at a Distance,” The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2002.

[28]   M. M. Wasko and S. Faraj, “Why Should I Share? Examining Social Capital and Knowledge Contribution in Electronic Networks of Practice,” MIS Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005, pp. 35-57.

[29]   J. Koh, Y. G. Kim, B. Butler and G. W. Bock, “Encouraging Participation in Virtual Communities,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2007, pp. 68-73.

[30]   B. Malby and K. Mervyn, “Social Networks: An Additional Brief Literature Review for the Health Foundation,” Centre for Innovation in Health Management, University of Leeds, 2012.

[31]   G. Ranmuthugala, F. C. Cunningham, J. J. Plumb, J. Long, A. Georgiou, J. I. Westbrook and J. Braithwaite, “A Realist Evaluation of the Role of Communities of Practice in Changing Healthcare Practice,” Implementa- tion Science, Vol. 6, 2011, p. 49.

[32]   R. Helms, “Redesigning communities of Practice Using Knowledge Network Analysis,” 2007.

[33]   L. Dubé, A. Bourhis and R. Jacob, “The Impact of Structuring Characteristics on the Launching of Virtual Communities of Practice,” Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2005, pp. 145-166.

[34]   K. F. Hew and N. Hara, “Identifying Factors That En- courage and Hinder Knowledge Sharing in a Longstanding Online Community of Practice,” Journal of Interactive Online Learning, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2006, pp. 297-316.