Developing a Web Platform to Support a Community of Practice: A Mixed Methods Study in Pediatric Physiotherapy

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Abstract

Introduction:

Web platforms are increasingly used to support virtual interactions between members of communities of practice (CoP). However, little is known about how to develop these platforms to support the implementation of best practices for health care professionals. The aim of this article is to explore pediatric physiotherapists' (PTs) perspectives regarding the utility and usability of the characteristic of a web platform developed to support virtual communities of practice (vCoP).

Methods:

This study adopted an explanatory sequential mixed methods design. A web platform supporting the interactions of vCoP members was developed for PTs working with children with developmental coordination disorder. Specific strategies and features were created to support the effectiveness of the platform across three domains: social, information-quality, and system-quality factors. Quantitative data were collected from a cross-sectional survey (n = 41) after 5 months of access to the web platform. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Qualitative data were also collected from semistructured interviews (n = 9), which were coded, interpreted, and analyzed by using Boucher's Web Ergonomics Conceptual Framework.

Results:

The utility of web platform characteristics targeting the three key domain factors were generally perceived positively by PTs. However, web platform usability issues were noted by PTs, including problems with navigation and information retrieval.

Discussion:

Web platform aiming to support vCoP should be carefully developed to target potential users' needs. Whenever possible, users should co-construct the web platform with vCoP developers. Moreover, each of the developed characteristics (eg, newsletter, search function) should be evaluated in terms of utility and usability for the users.

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