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Rehabilitation Research and Practice
Volume 2016, Article ID 9051378, 7 pages
Research Article

Shouldering the Burden of Evidence-Based Practice: The Experiences of Physiotherapists Partaking in a Community of Practice

1Department of Clinical Therapies, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
2Department of Allied Health Professions and Midwifery, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK
3Musculoskeletal Services, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, London SW1E 6QP, UK

Received 24 September 2015; Accepted 30 December 2015

Academic Editor: Keh-chung Lin

Copyright © 2016 Karen McCreesh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study aim was to elicit the motivators, barriers, and benefits of participation in a Community of Practice (CoP) for primary care physiotherapists. We used a qualitative approach using semistructured interviews. The participants were twelve physiotherapists partaking in a newly formed Shoulder CoP. A desire for peer support was the strongest motivator for joining, with improving clinical practice being less apparent. Barriers to participation included time and work pressures and poor research skills. The structure of the CoP, in terms of access to meetings and the provision of preparation work and deadlines for the journal clubs, was reported to be a facilitator. Multiple benefits ensued from participation. The role of teamwork was emphasised in relation to reducing isolation and achieving goals. The majority of participants reported positive clinical practice changes in terms of improved patient education, increased confidence, and availability of new resources. All participants reported some element of personal growth and development, in particular in their evidence-based practice skills. The results provide support for the use of CoPs as a means of continuing professional development for physiotherapists in the workplace, as significant benefits are gained in terms of evidence-based practice (EBP), patient care, and therapist personal development.