Communities of Practice Foster Collaboration across Public Health
March 4, 2013 Editor 0
Purpose – The complexity and responsibilities of public health make collaboration across multiple levels of government critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) effectively uses communities of practice (CoPs) to bring its staff together with partners to share, learn, and address public health problems.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper assessed the value of CoPs to individual members, their organizations, and their public health domains; assessed whether the CoP Program has improved CDC’s relationship with participants in various CoPs; and identified barriers to participation or success factors that could be applied to the development of new CoPs. Responses from a random sample of active CoP members were analyzed using qualitative data analysis software to identify themes and answer research questions.
Findings – Results revealed clear benefits to individual members, their organizations, and public health disciplines including daily work efficiencies, expanded infrastructure, and enhanced relationships between CDC and its public health partners.
Research limitations/implications – This qualitative research analyzed a small number of communities of practice spanning their launch through year 2; further study of a larger sample of public health CoPs, including sustainability factors, would build on this case study’s implications.
Practical implications – Public health practitioners seeking a collaborative approach to problem solving will find in this study some useful lessons learned from CDC; readers will be introduced to CDC’s CoP Resource Kit and a public health collaboration portal, phConnect.
Originality/value – Well-facilitated, member-driven, and highly-participative CoPs are valuable tools for fostering collaboration essential to improving the public health system, and should be used more broadly across public health.
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Categories: Knowledge Management
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