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Original Research

Factors influencing rural and urban emergency clinicians' participation in an online knowledge exchange intervention

Submitted: 6 April 2012
Revised: 18 August 2012
Accepted: 13 December 2012
Published: 4 February 2013

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Author(s) : Curran JA, Murphy AL, Sinclair D, McGrath P.

Janet CurranAndrea MurphyDouglas SinclairPatrick McGrath

Citation: Curran JA, Murphy AL, Sinclair D, McGrath P.  Factors influencing rural and urban emergency clinicians' participation in an online knowledge exchange intervention. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 2175. Available: (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Introduction:  Rural emergency departments (EDs) generally have limited access to continuing education and are typically staffed by clinicians without pediatric emergency specialty training. Emergency care of children is complex and the majority of children receive emergency care in non-pediatric tertiary care centers. In recent decades, there has been a call to action to improve quality and safety in the emergency care of children. Of the one million ED visits by children in Ontario in 2005–2006, one in three visited more than once in a year and one in 15 returned to the ED within 72 hours of the index visit. This study explored factors influencing rural and urban ED clinicians’ participation in a Web-based knowledge exchange intervention that focused on best practice knowledge about pediatric emergency care. The following questions guided the study: (i) What are the individual, context of practice or knowledge factors which impact a clinician’s decision to participate in a Web-based knowledge exchange intervention?; (ii) What are clinicians’ perceptions of organizational expectations regarding knowledge and information sources to be used in practice?; and (iii) What are the preferred knowledge sources of rural and urban emergency clinicians?
Methods:  A Web-based knowledge exchange intervention, the Pediatric Emergency Care Web Based Knowledge Exchange Project, for rural and urban ED clinicians was developed. The website contained 12 pediatric emergency practice learning modules with linked asynchronous discussion forums. The topics for the modules were determined through a needs assessment and the module content was developed by known experts in the field. A follow-up survey was sent to a convenience sample of 187 clinicians from nine rural and two urban Canadian EDs participating in the pediatric emergency Web-based knowledge exchange intervention study.
Results:  The survey response rate was 56% (105/187). Participation in the knowledge exchange intervention was related to individual involvement in research activities (χ2=5.23, p=0.019), consultation with colleagues from other EDs (χ2=6.37, p=0.01) and perception of organizational expectations to use research evidence to guide practice (χ2=5.52, p=0.015). Most clinicians (95/105 or 92%) reported relying on colleagues from their own ED as a primary knowledge source. Urban clinicians were more likely than their rural counterparts to perceive that use of research evidence to guide practice was an expectation. Rural clinicians were more likely to rely on physicians from their own ED as a preferred knowledge source.
Conclusion:  The decision made by emergency clinicians to participate in a Web-based knowledge exchange intervention was influenced by a number of individual and contextual factors. Differences in these factors and preferences for knowledge sources require further characterization to enhance engagement of rural ED clinicians in online knowledge exchange interventions.

Key words: Canada, information technology, knowledge exchange, pediatric emergency medicine, survey.

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