ASSESSING THE RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF THE NETWORK ENGAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE: CAN ENGAGEMENT PREDICT KNOWLEDGE USE IN A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE?
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A disconnect exists between research and practice that is impeding the flow of knowledge between researchers, practitioners and decision makers. This obstruction of knowledge is acting as a barrier to the use of evidence in decisions and also as a barrier to informing research of important questions that need answering through scientific investigation. This divide between research and practice can be crossed by building a bridge between researchers and practitioners across which knowledge can be transmitted, translated and exchanged. <br /><br /> A possible mechanism to understand the key contributors to bridge building is by using Wenger's Community of Practice model as a framework upon which to understand the importance of and how to build connections between research, policy and practice. The defining characteristic of a Community of Practice is the interaction between members in order to jointly determine and embrace goals, eventually resulting in shared practices. Crucial to the success of a Community of Practice is the engagement between community members. Without engagement, a Community of Practice can not share knowledge and achieve its negotiated goals. <br /><br /> This thesis studied a Community of Practice that is being deliberately formed to facilitate the development of a pan-Canadian population health research network. This network, CANSPANN (Canadian School Physical Activity and Nutrition Network) aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and decision makers to create research programs studying the social-environmental influence of schools on youth physical activity and healthy eating that address priorities for policy and practice. <br /><br /> This thesis assessed if a quantitative questionnaire tool could validly and reliably measure the level of engagement between CANSPANN members. The questionnaire also aimed to determine if engagement predicted knowledge use. Eighteen items in the NEQ validly measure engagement of CANSPANN members. Sufficient content validly was established for these items. Of these eighteen items, only four subscales significantly predicted knowledge use. <br /><br /> Through reliability testing with qualitative interviews it was determined that the Network Engagement Questionnaire reliably measures engagement for CANSPANN members who are centrally involved. It is far less able to reliably measure engagement for peripheral members. Further testing with the NEQ is necessary in order to increase its reliability.