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Original Research

Can a community of practice equip public health nutritionists to work with remote retail to improve the food supply?

Submitted: 16 January 2015
Revised: 16 June 2015
Accepted: 24 July 2015
Published: 15 October 2015

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Author(s) : Holden S, Ferguson M, Brimblecombe J, Palermo CE.

Claire Palermo

Citation: Holden S, Ferguson M, Brimblecombe J, Palermo CE.  Can a community of practice equip public health nutritionists to work with remote retail to improve the food supply? Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3464. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  This study aimed to determine the influence on practice of a community of practice designed for public health nutritionists who work with retail stores in remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
Methods:  A descriptive evaluation of the community of practice participants’ perspectives using the most significant change technique and individual in-depth interviews was conducted. Data were analysed using thematic and content analysis with a focus on answering the evaluation questions.
Results:  Twelve public health nutritionists employed to work with remote Indigenous community stores were involved. The community of practice was reported to develop competence through problem solving, knowledge sharing and building confidence for innovative work. Building competence was achieved through accessible and timely professional support. Sharing stories and being encouraged to reflect on practice was valued and supported the participant’s practice. Working to improve the food supply is challenging but there is value in being supported by like-minded colleagues to stay focused on this work.
Conclusions:  Most participants perceived the community of practice intervention to be an effective strategy to improve their work. These findings provide evidence of a promising intervention for building the public health nutrition workforce in remote Indigenous community store retail settings.

Key words: Aboriginal, Australia, community of practice, remote stores, Torres Strait Islander, workforce development.

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