Communities of Practice in Tobacco Control

Event Details

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
4:00 to 6:00 pm
Institute for Work and Health
481 University Avenue, 8th floor


Download the presentation (PPT, 1.7 MB)


To foster knowledge exchange in tobacco control, the Program Training and Consultation Centre (PTCC) develops and supports tobacco control related Communities of Practice (CoP) of salience to Ontario’s local tobacco control community. The CoPs are supported through PTCC’s Learning through Evidence, Action and Reflection Networks (LEARN) project. LEARN CoPs create a ‘platform’ for diverse actors in the Ontario tobacco control field such as local public health practitioners, researchers, NGO and provincial government staff to come together to learn and be connected to the latest developments in a particular content area, share, problem-solve and co-create knowledge. People knowing each other makes it easy to ask for help, as well as feel confident to know requests are welcome. The CoPs are also a mechanism for PTCC to facilitate the sharing and use of evidence, from both research and practice, to make public health decisions in the practice areas that each CoP targets. This presentation will provide some background on PTCC’s CoPs, what they provide to the CoPs, highlight some of the tools used to facilitate and foster knowledge exchange with these groups and a brief overview of the online space provided to each of these CoPs.

The presentation will also describe findings from an evaluation of the LEARN CoPs. The evaluation examined how PTCC’s CoPs were facilitating networking and relationship building and their use of knowledge gained from the CoP in practice. Since PTCC’s CoPs bring together actors that represent different organizations or sectors which have their own unique identities (i.e., shared understandings of who they are as a group) that guide what they value and how they do business, this study also examined how these diverse people were cohering as a community and how this influenced knowledge utilization (i.e., conceptual use, instrumental use). This issue was examined because identity-based differences can cause conflicts that challenge open dialogue and breakdown potentially fruitful partnerships/collaborations that can advance public health practice. Also, calls are made to understand the underlying factors and processes that enable people representing different organizations or sectors to translate their knowledge across group boundaries and co-create new knowledge that informs action in informal structures like CoPs. A conceptual framework was developed to guide the evaluation and better understand these issues. The framework asserts that a shared CoP identity, sense of belonging, social capital and psychological safety contribute to diverse people cohering into a collective, which the literature suggests enables the exchange and use of knowledge across group boundaries.

About the Speakers

Cynthia NeilsonCynthia Neilson is a Health Promotion Specialist, Knowledge Broker with the Program Training & Consultation Centre (PTCC). Cynthia is responsible for coordinating province-wide communities of practice for public health professionals in the area of tobacco control. Prior to joining PTCC, Cynthia worked at the Institute for Work & Health as a Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Associate. In this role she maintained professional networks, presented and disseminated research to the community and managed relationships with external stakeholders. Cynthia holds a Master of Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario.

Irene LambrakiDr. Irene Lambraki is a Senior Research Associate for the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact (Propel). Irene is responsible for providing scientific leadership to the Program Training and Consultation Centre’s (PTCC) applied research function which is situated at Propel. As part of this role, Irene oversees studies that generate evidence from science and practice that contribute to PTCC’s knowledge exchange and capacity building activities and informs tobacco control knowledge gaps identified by PTCC’s clients.

Irene trained at the University of Waterloo (Ph.D. in Health Studies and Gerontology) and the University of Guelph (Msc in Applied Human Nutrition). Irene brings to her role ten years of experience conducting research on knowledge exchange, including the role of communities of practice as a vehicle for knowledge exchange and utilization. She also brings experience in capacity building. She has conducted research on public health tobacco control workforce capacity and local public health agencies’ capacity for evidence-informed practice and organizational learning. Her research interests include knowledge exchange, capacity building, practice-based evidence, chronic disease prevention, and understanding how to bridge silos to enhance knowledge exchange and innovation from an organizational identity and social identity lens.

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