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Using Concept Mapping to Develop a Conceptual Framework for Creating Virtual Communities of Practice to Translate Cancer Research into Practice
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    Introduction

    Translating government-funded cancer research into clinical practice can be accomplished via virtual communities of practice that include key players in the process: researchers, health care practitioners, and intermediaries. This study, conducted from November 2012 through January 2013, examined issues that key stakeholders believed should be addressed to create and sustain government-sponsored virtual communities of practice to integrate cancer control research, practice, and policy and demonstrates how concept mapping can be used to present relevant issues.

    Methods

    Key stakeholders brainstormed statements describing what is needed to create and sustain virtual communities of practice for moving cancer control research into practice. Participants rated them on importance and feasibility, selected most relevant statements, and sorted them into clusters. I used concept mapping to examine the issues identified and multidimensional scaling analyses to create a 2-dimensional conceptual map of the statement clusters.

    Results

    Participants selected 70 statements and sorted them into 9 major clusters related to creating and sustaining virtual communities of practice: 1) standardization of best practices, 2) external validity, 3) funding and resources, 4) social learning and collaboration, 5) cooperation, 6) partnerships, 7) inclusiveness, 8) social determinants and cultural competency, and 9) preparing the environment. Researchers, health care practitioners, and intermediaries were in relative agreement regarding issues of importance for creating these communities.

    Conclusion

    Virtual communities of practice can be created to address the needs of researchers, health care practitioners, and intermediaries by using input from these key stakeholders. Increasing linkages between these subgroups can improve the translation of research into practice. Similarities and differences between groups can provide valuable information to assist the government in developing virtual communities of practice.

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