Publication Details

Barnett, S., Jones, S. C., Barrie, L. R., Bonney, A. D. & Iverson, D. C. (2011). General Practice training, Web 2.0 and virtual communities of practice : a survey study. 2011 PHC Research Conference: Inspirations, Collaborations, Solutions Australia: PHC Australia.


Aims & rationale/Objectives

General Practice training faces geographic barriers to efficient knowledge sharing, collaboration and professional and social support amongst its participants. In industry, large companies use internet tools to create Virtual Communities of Practice which improve collaboration, information sharing and support amongst staff. This study examined the feasibility of using Web 2.0 tools to create a Virtual Community of Practice for GP training.


A crossectional online survey was conducted in a Regional GP Training Provider (RTP). The instrument contained categorical and 5-point ascending Likert response format items and was sent to all registrars and supervisors in the RTP. Descriptive analyses were undertaken to highlight overall trends. T-Test was used to compare differences between means for the 5-point response items, and Chi-square for proportions.

Principal findings

The response rate was 36% (total n=131, registrar n=81, supervisor n=50). Mean responses for confidence in using internet browsers were similar (registrar=4.15 SD=0.64, supervisor=4.04, SD=0.78, p=0.71), however confidence using discussion forums was higher for registrars compared with supervisors (mean=3.40, SD 1.02 vs. 2.98, SD 1.29; p<0.05). Mean response for registrars' interest in a private social network for training purposes was 3.96, SD 0.71.


This study shows that supervisors and registrars have confidence in internet usage and that particularly registrars are interested in a private social network for training purposes. GP training faces some geographical and workplace barriers. Virtual Communities of Practice and Web 2.0 tools may help to improve GP training by overcoming geographic barriers and therefore should be further investigated.

Link to publisher version (URL)

PHC Research Conference