Primary care physicians (PCPs) maintain high standards of medical care by partaking in continuous learning. The learning model of communities of practice (COPs) is increasingly being used in the field of health care. This study explores the establishment and maintenance of COPs among PCPs in Hong Kong.Methods:
Sequential, semi-structured individual interview and focus group interview were conducted to explore the purposes for partaking in continuous learning, as well as barriers and facilitators for attendance among private nonspecialist PCPs in Hong Kong. Data were drawn from the discourses related to COPs. Thematic analysis with constant comparison was performed until data saturation was reached.Results:
PCPs voluntarily established COPs to solve clinical problems from the existing networks. Clinical interest, practice orientation, and recruitment of new members through endorsement by the existing members fostered group coherence. Conversation and interaction among members generated the “best” practice with knowledge that was applicable in specific clinical scenarios in primary care setting. COPs rejected commercial sponsorship to minimize corporate influences on learning. Updating medical knowledge, solving clinical problems, maintaining openness, engendering a sense of trust and ownership among members, and fulfilling psychosocial needs were integral to sustainability. Seeking secretariat support to aid in the logistics of meetings, enhancing external learning resources, and facilitation skills training of facilitators from professional bodies may further incentivize members to maintain COPs.Discussion:
Autonomy of group learning activities, recruiting specialists and allied health professionals, training facilitators, and undertaking discussion in multimedia may achieve the sustainability of COPs.