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Table 1 Four-stage approach to the realist evaluation of communities of practice

From: A realist evaluation of the role of communities of practice in changing healthcare practice





1. Theory

• Systematic review of the literature

• Semi-structured interviews with sponsors and facilitators of CoPs

• Formulate CMO configurations

• Qualitative -- Identify themes and categorise as outcomes, mechanisms, and contextual factors

• Formulate potential CMO configurations

Provide the theoretical basis for the realist evaluation

2. Hypotheses generation

• Generate hypotheses based on CMO configurations

Rephrase CMO configurations into hypotheses

Formulate hypotheses to be tested during stage three

3. Observation

• Online survey of CoP members

Quantitative --

• Identify CMO configurations that occur with regularity

• Social Network Analysis

Test and accept, reject, or modify hypotheses

Examine structure of professional and social relationships and flow of information and knowledge within the CoP

4. Program specification

• Review analysis from stage three

Refine theorised CMO configurations based on testing of hypotheses

Specify CMO configurations that explain how, when and why CoPs improve healthcare practice