Developing domestic violence primary prevention capacity through a community of practice project: Learnings from Alberta, Canada

Summary

Domestic violence practitioners and community organizations often lack the capacity to engage in primary prevention activities. In part, this limited capacity exacerbates the gap between evidence-based research and practice, necessitating innovative initiatives specifically aimed at user uptake. Using a community of practice (CoP) model within two distinct communities in Alberta, Canada, we sought to translate research knowledge on domestic violence prevention and build primary prevention capacity with practitioners. One hundred twenty professionals from various sectors attended CoP sessions, with 20 attending all six sessions. Data was collected using in-depth semi-structured telephone interviews. Interview findings include that face to-face learning was effective for deeper understanding and building networks across sectors, as well as supporting new aspects of prevention work that had not been previously considered. Findings also indicate that skilled facilitation increased CoP effectiveness, particularly where community context was considered in relation to the topics presented. Impacts include changes to discourse, priorities, and resource allocation to support primary prevention. Areas for improvement include a slower pace of information delivery, and increased focus on policy and system changes. Overall, using a CoP model seemed to support knowledge translation and practitioner capacity building in the area of domestic violence prevention. Considerations for future utilization of this model are explored.