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See detailVirtual communities of practice: can they support the prevention agenda in public health?
Korjonen, Maria Helena UL

in Online Journal of Public Health Informatics (2015), 7(2), 222

BACKGROUND: Virtual Communities of Practice (CoPs) are flexible communication and knowledge management tools enabling collaboration, sharing of best practice and professional development. There have been ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Virtual Communities of Practice (CoPs) are flexible communication and knowledge management tools enabling collaboration, sharing of best practice and professional development. There have been few studies that have looked at the use and usefulness of virtual CoPs in public health. METHODS: This project sought to gather the evidence and develop recommendations for the value of virtual CoPs in public health through a literature review, and through piloting two CoPs in obesity. The research aimed to find out how useful CoPs are in obesity prevention, what makes a CoP successful and what evaluation methods are appropriate. RESULTS: CoPs are composed of observers, passive and active contributors with a small group of 'super-users'. All users learn through reading and listening, even if they do not post. The CoPs had higher levels of reading activity as opposed to low levels of posting activity. Longer existence of CoPs usually means more active membership. There are complex reasons why users fail to engage in knowledge sharing. Success of a CoP is creating an online environment where users feel comfortable. CoPs need administrative support and facilitation. Champions play a vital role. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence shows some encouraging results about the value of CoPs in enabling collaboration and information sharing. Despite low membership numbers of the obesity CoPs piloted, members see value and suggest improvements. Findings suggest that success comes from leadership, champions, and larger networks with more posting activity. Mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative research are appropriate in measuring the use and impact of CoPs. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Obesity Learning Centre (OLC) - a website supporting those working towards a healthy weight and reducing obesity levels
Korjonen, Maria Helena UL

in Online Journal of Public Health Informatics (2011), 3(1),

Objectives: Develop a website, the OLC, which supports those people who work on promoting a healthy weight and tackling obesity. Research shows that original networks where sharing of information and peer ... [more ▼]

Objectives: Develop a website, the OLC, which supports those people who work on promoting a healthy weight and tackling obesity. Research shows that original networks where sharing of information and peer interaction take place create solutions to current public health challenges. Methods: Considerations that are relevant when building a new information service as well as the technical set up and information needs of users were taken into account prior to building the OLC and during continuous development and maintenance. Results: The OLC provides global news, resources and tools and link out to other networks, websites and organisations providing similar useful information. The OLC also uses social networking tools to highlight new and important information. Discussion: Networks contribute to a stronger community that can respond to emerging challenges in public health. The OLC improves connections of people and services from different backgrounds and organisations. Some challenges exist in the technical set up and also because of other aspects, e.g. public health information and differing information needs. Conclusion: Public health work programmes should include networking opportunities where public policy can be disseminated. The provision of necessary tools and resources can lead to better decision-making, save time and money and lead to improved public health outcomes. [less ▲]

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