Background: Communities of practice are based on the idea that learning involves a group of people exchanging experiences and knowledge. The e-MPODERA project aims to assess the effectiveness of a virtual community of practice aimed at improving primary healthcare professional attitudes to the empowerment of patients with chronic diseases.
Methods: This paper describes the protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial. We will randomly assign 18 primary-care practices per participating region of Spain (Catalonia, Madrid and Canary Islands) to a virtual community of practice or to usual training. The primary-care practice will be the randomization unit and the primary healthcare professional will be the unit of analysis. We will need a sample of 270 primary healthcare professionals (general practitioners and nurses) and 1382 patients. We will perform randomization after professionals and patients are selected. We will ask the intervention group to participate for 12 months in a virtual community of practice based on a web 2.0 platform. We will measure the primary outcome using the Patient-Provider Orientation Scale questionnaire administered at baseline and after 12 months. Secondary outcomes will be the sociodemographic characteristics of health professionals, sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of patients, the Patient Activation Measure questionnaire for patient activation and outcomes regarding use of the virtual community of practice. We will calculate a linear mixed-effects regression to estimate the effect of participating in the virtual community of practice.
Discussion: This cluster randomized controlled trial will show whether a virtual intervention for primary healthcare professionals improves attitudes to the empowerment of patients with chronic diseases.
Trial registration: ClicalTrials.gov, NCT02757781 . Registered on 25 April 2016. Protocol Version. PI15.01 22 January 2016.
Keywords: Empowerment; Healthcare professional attitudes; Primary healthcare; Virtual system.