Online communities of practice as a communication resource for community health nurses working with homeless persons
Article first published online: 10 FEB 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 67, Issue 6, pages 1273–1284, June 2011
How to Cite
Valaitis, R. K., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Brooks, F., Binks, S. and Semogas, D. (2011), Online communities of practice as a communication resource for community health nurses working with homeless persons. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 67: 1273–1284. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05582.x
- Issue published online: 9 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 10 FEB 2011
- Accepted for publication 18 December 2010
- community of practice;
- marginally housed;
- street nursing
valaitis r.k., akhtar-danesh n., brooks f., binks s. & semogas d. (2011) Online communities of practice as a communication resource for community health nurses working with homeless persons. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(6), 1273–1284.
Aims. This study explored community health nurses’ viewpoints about a Canadian online community of practice to support their practice with homeless or under-housed populations.
Background. Community health nurses who specifically work with homeless and marginally housed populations often report feelings of isolation and stress in managing complex problems in resource constraints. To strengthen intra-professional ties and enhance information access, an online community of practice was designed, implemented and evaluated by and for them.
Methods. Q-methodology was used. Sixty-six statements about the community of practice were collected from an online survey and focus groups, refined and reduced to 44 statements. In 2009, sixteen participants completed the Q-sort activity, rating each statement relative to the others. Scores for each participant were subjected to by-person factor analysis.
Results. Respondents fell into two groups –tacit knowledge warriors and tacit knowledge communicators. Warriors strongly believed that the community of practice could combat stigma associated with homelessness and promote awareness of homelessness issues, and valued its potential to validate and improve practice. Communicators would have used the community of practice more with increased discussion, facilitation and prompt responses. Generally, nurses viewed the community of practice as a place to share stories, validate practice and adapt best practices to their work context.
Conclusions. Online communities of practice can be valuable to nurses in specialized fields with limited peer support and access to information resources. Tacit knowledge development is important to nurses working with homeless populations: this needs to be valued in conjunction with scientifically based knowledge.