Bridging the gap: knowledge seeking and sharing in a virtual community of emergency practice

Eval Health Prof. 2009 Sep;32(3):312-25. doi: 10.1177/0163278709338570. Epub 2009 Aug 20.


Disparities exist between rural and urban emergency departments with respect to knowledge resources such as online journals and clinical specialists. As knowledge is a critical element in the delivery of quality care, a web-based learning project was proposed to address the knowledge needs of emergency clinicians. One objective of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of the online environment for knowledge exchange among rural and urban emergency clinicians. Descriptive and content analysis of the online discussion board revealed 202 postings with rural participants contributing the largest number of postings (75%; 152/202). Postings were used to establish a clinical presence (87/202), seek clinical information (52/202), and share clinical information (63/202). Postintervention survey results indicate that this modality introduced participants to new clinical experts and resources. The results provide direction for design of a virtual community of practice, which may reduce current knowledge resource disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Distance / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Rural Health Services*