Exploring engagement in a virtual community of practice in pediatric rehabilitation: who are non-users, lurkers, and posters?
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PURPOSE: Communities of practice are increasingly recognized in rehabilitation as useful knowledge transfer tools; however, little is known about their users. This exploratory study describes the characteristics of participants and non-participants invited to engage in a pediatric rehabilitation virtual community of practice. In addition, we explored virtual community of practice utilization behaviors, engagement predictors, and the impact of strategies designed to foster engagement. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Participants' demographics including information-seeking style and organization e-readiness, as well as online platform frequency of use data were collected and analyzed using descriptive, comparative, and predictive statistics. RESULTS: Seventy-four percent of those invited used the virtual community of practice. Users had less years of experience in pediatric rehabilitation than non-users. Among the users, 71% were classified as "lurkers," who engaged through reading content only; while 29% were classified as "posters," editing online content. Predictive factors were not uncovered, however an increased number of forum visits correlated with being a poster, a non-information seeker, an employee of an organization demonstrating e-readiness, and regularly working with children with the virtual community of practice specific condition. User-engagement strategies increased visits to the forum. CONCLUSIONS: These findings will assist rehabilitation leaders in leveraging rehabilitation-specific virtual community of practice to improve knowledge transfer and practice in pediatric rehabilitation and disability management. Implications for Rehabilitation Communities of practice are increasingly recognized as useful knowledge transfer tools for rehabilitation professionals and are made more accessible thanks to virtual technologies. Our virtual community of practice was found to be optimized in health care organizations with an electronic culture, when the topic area had daily relevance to its target audience, and was particularly beneficial for those who have limited years of experience in pediatric rehabilitation. A strongly committed, selected leadership team with the technological skills, content expertise, and designated time to maintain the site and to nurture discussion was deemed vital in fostering knowledge exchange in this context. User-focused engagement strategies showed promise in increasing visits to the virtual community of practice. Our study supports the importance of multi-pronged approaches in enhancing health care professional knowledge and skills Findings from this study will assist rehabilitation leaders in optimally leveraging rehabilitation-specific virtual community of practice to improve knowledge transfer in pediatric rehabilitation and disability management.