Core components of a Community of Practice to improve community health worker performance: a qualitative study

Rachel Hennein, Joseph M. Ggita, Patricia Turimumahoro, Emmanuel Ochom, Amanda J. Gupta, Achilles Katamba, Mari Armstrong-Hough, J. Lucian Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Communities of Practice (CoPs) offer an accessible strategy for healthcare workers to improve the quality of care through knowledge sharing. However, not enough is known about which components of CoPs are core to facilitating behavior change. Therefore, we carried out a qualitative study to address these important gaps in the literature on CoPs and inform planning for an interventional study of CoPs. Methods: We organized community health workers (CHWs) from two tuberculosis (TB) clinics in Kampala, Uganda, into a CoP from February to June 2018. We conducted interviews with CoP members to understand their perceptions of how the CoP influenced delivery of TB contact investigation. Using an abductive approach, we first applied inductive codes characterizing CHWs’ perceptions of how the CoP activities affected their delivery of contact investigation. We then systematically mapped these codes into their functional categories using the Behavior Change Technique (BCT) Taxonomy and the Behavior Change Wheel framework. We triangulated all interview findings with detailed field notes. Results: All eight members of the CoP agreed to participate in the interviews. CHWs identified five CoP activities as core to improving the quality of their work: (1) individual review of feedback reports, (2) collaborative improvement meetings, (3) real-time communications among members, (4) didactic education sessions, and (5) clinic-wide staff meetings. These activities incorporated nine different BCTs and five distinct intervention functions. CHWs reported that these activities provided a venue for them to share challenges, exchange knowledge, engage in group problem solving, and benefit from social support. CHWs also explained that they felt a shared sense of ownership of the CoP, which motivated them to propose and carry out innovations. CHWs described that the CoP strengthened their social and professional identities within and outside the group, and improved their self-efficacy. Conclusions: We identified the core components and several mechanisms through which CoPs may improve CHW performance. Future studies should evaluate the importance of these mechanisms in mediating the effects of CoPs on program effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Behavior Change Technique
  • Community of practice
  • Intervention function
  • Low-income countries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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